All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/25/2017 Senate Republicans advance Health Care Bill

Guests: Mike Rounds, Sherrod Brown, Sari Horowitz

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: July 25, 2017 Guest: Mike Rounds, Sherrod Brown, Sari Horowitz

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

CROWD: Shame! Shame! Shame!

HAYES: Republicans advance health care in the Senate. And the final fight begins.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We`re going to try to come up with something that`s really spectacular.

HAYES: Tonight the historic Republican jam job and what untold damage it could cause.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don`t think that will work in the end and probably shouldn`t.

HAYES: Then,

TRUMP: I`m very disappointed with the Attorney General but we will see what happens.

HAYES: Donald Trump starts the clock on his own Attorney General.

TRUMP: Time will tell. Time will tell.

HAYES: The latest on the President`s humiliation of Jeff Sessions and what it means for the Russia investigation. Plus, what we learned from Jared Kushner in a second day on the Hill. And did Paul Manafort cut a deal to get out of testifying in public?

PAUL MANAFORT, That`s what he said. That`s what I said. That`s - obviously, that`s what our position is.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. At this very moment, there is a bill on the floor in the United States Senate that would effectively kill ObamaCare. This after the Republican controlled body passed by the thinnest possible margin, the motion to proceed to debate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And this was the scene this afternoon as that motion came to a vote.

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PROTESTERS: Kill the Bill, don`t kill us! Kill the bill, don`t kill us!

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: Sergeant at Arms will restore order in the chamber.

PROTESTERS: Shame! Shame! Shame!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Despite those protests and others, and despite approval numbers in the low teens, the motion passed today thanks to two men. Vice President Mike Pence who was once again forced to cast a tie breaking Senate vote and Senator John McCain, now battling brain cancer and only ten days out of surgery who returned to Washington today to the Senate to a standing ovation from his colleagues and then provided the deciding vote to move the bill to the floor and further President Trump`s agenda. After that, McCain then gave a speech in which he described the legislative process which he himself had helped facilitate as bankrupt, later test and called for change.

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MCCAIN: I voted for the motion to proceed to allow the debate to continue and amendments will be offered. I will not vote for this bill as it is today. We tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing on it skeptical members, trying to convince them that it`s better than nothing. That it`s better than nothing? Asking to us swallow our doubts and force to pass to unified opposition. I don`t think that`s going to work in the end and probably shouldn`t. Why don`t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encouraged us to act? If this process ends in failure which seems likely, then let`s return to regular order.

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HAYES: What Senate Republicans have done so far is a process that is entirely unprecedented. It has violated as Senator McCain had said, every single norm of the Senate, every single tradition and unlike the Senate consideration of the Affordable Care Act eight years ago, which had 53 meetings in the Finance Committee alone, 44 hearings and public events, so far none of that has occurred in the GOP Senate handling of its own Health care Bill. Now, Senator McCain says he`s a no on this bill in its current form. So now the question becomes, do Republicans as whole ratify a process they themselves decry every chance they get? A process that will permanently alter the mechanisms of American governance and legislation. One that will produce legislation that would - according to Congressional Budget Office ultimately reduce the number of Americans insured by as much as 32 million. Legislation that could very well cause a catastrophic implosion of every single individual health insurance market in all 50 states while raising premiums and splashing Medicaid that provides vital care, seniors, the disabled and children. Are they prepared to own what comes after a yes vote? Earlier I spoke with Republican Senator Mike who had just voted yes on the motion to proceed.

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HAYES: Do you think it is a good idea to restructure a sixth of the American economy without holding a single hearing?

MIKE ROUNDS (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: What we know is that`s the only option available to us right now. We`re proceeding from where we are today. There`s a lot of us that would have thought earlier that hearings would have been appropriate but became a matter of timing. We`ve got until the end of - the end of September in which to utilize this particular reconciliation vehicle. So we can argue about whether or not it`s the right move now but it is the position that we find ourselves in.

HAYES: But Senator, you - Senator, I don`t have the power to stop it if I don`t like the process nor do a hundreds of millions of American citizen. You do. And it`s very strange for me to watch members of the Senate complain about the process, your colleague John Mccain, incredibly eloquent. I want to read to you a portion of what he said there. He said this was a - coming up of a proposal behind closed doors and then springing it on skeptical members, essentially kind of jam it down the throats of the Senate. You can stop that. You members of the Senate, you can hold hearings.

ROUNDS: I think I lost you.

HAYES: All I`m saying Senator is that you have the power. You and your colleagues who complain about this process, who don`t like it, you have the power to stop it. But no one seems to want to stop it.

ROUNDS: Actually we don`t have it right now. We`re stuck with the system that`s in place now because -

HAYES: That`s not true though. You could have voted no in the motion to proceed today.

ROUNDS: Actually didn`t we know what the result would have been and the result would have been a continuation of an ObamaCare product that next year will go up between 20 and 40 percent premiums and that`s if the President agrees to continue the subsidies to the insurance company. So, we recognize that that is the worst-case scenario. It is a failing system.

HAYES: Wait a second -

ROUNDS: But we have an opportunity to do is to actually make change in the system based upon the amendments that we`re looking out right now. And what I`ve seen right now, I like the proposals that have come up so far. I like the idea of having 77,000 more South Dakotans have a chance to have a stable market that`s going to come down by 30 percent by the year 2020. I like the idea of having 32,000 more South Dakotans actually have a chance to get a tax advantage for their health care that they have today. I like those options.

HAYES: Senator, everything that we`ve seen from the independent analysis from the CBO of the various options, whether it`s BCRA, whether it`s the House Bill would mean tens of millions people with less insurance, premiums going up and deductibles going up. Those are the major complaints people have.

ROUNDS: No, that`s not - that is incorrect because we actually got - we actually got -

HAYES: That is true.

ROUNDS: No, sir. We`ve actually got the budget - the CBO report, that under the original Senate Bill, without even the amendments that we want to put on it will actually reduce the premiums by 30 percent by the year 2020.

HAYES: Which bill are you talking about?

ROUNDS: This is what they call the BCRA which is the first - the initial Senate Bill which has already been out. It`s 122 pages in length. I`ve read it. I hope a lot of other people have as well. There`s also been a complete CBO report on it as well. You are correct that it suggests that there will be a decrease in the number of people insured but we already know that their estimate was off by 5 million because they used the 2016th instead of the 2017 base. And we already lost 5 million more people in this - in the last fiscal year that didn`t keep - that didn`t keep their insurance under ObamaCare.

HAYES: But here`s what is so maddening about this process. I trying to follow it as journalist, as citizen. I feel like I`m at a - at a sidewalk in Manhattan playing three card Monty where the bill keeps flashing up and it keeps changing. So the bill that you just referenced scored by the CBO will reduce the number of people that have insurance, that we know -

ROUNDS: And it will reduce premiums, we know that.

HAYES: Some people`s premiums will go up and deductibles will go up for some folks. That`s not disputable, right? There are going to be losers in this.

ROUNDS: Actually, the deductibles don`t go up but the premiums in some cases would go up unless we don`t make additional amendments to the bill.

HAYES: And not only that -

ROUNDS: Those amendments are also being provided as well. But the problem is we don`t have those scores yet.

HAYES: Let`s get to the bottom line, right? The President promised that he would not cut Medicaid. He promised it multiple times, he distinguished himself from other Republican in the primary field by saying he wouldn`t cut Medicaid. Can you look people in the eyes and say the bill we`ll pass will be signed by the President if that happens will not cut Medicaid?

ROUNDS: I can tell you that the bill that`s under consideration, the initial bill that`s under consideration right now, Medicaid, would actually go up - would actually go up by 24 percent between now and the year 2024 -

HAYES: Right, but it would take $800 billion out of the program.

ROUNDS: It would - it would - no, it would take a projection. And remember, you`re talking D.C. now, let`s talk real world. We`re talking about a smaller increase and what it would otherwise be -

HAYES: Senator, if you`re - if you`re a baseball player - if you`re a baseball player inside the three-year contract for $9 million and they come back to you and say here`s the three-year contract for $7 million, you`ve taken a $2 million pay cut. Everyone understands that.

ROUNDS: Well - no wait, if you already had it. But in this particular case, we don`t already have it. What we do know -

HAYES: We do, it`s there.

ROUNDS: - is that if we - if we don`t anything to control costs within the program, the program very well might not even be sustainable for the next generation. What we`re trying to do is to actually make Medicaid sustainable not just for the rest of this generation but the generation to follow.

HAYES: All right, Senator Mike Rounds, thanks for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.

ROUNDS: Absolutely. You bet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: In additional Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, Senate Democrats were united in opposition of the motion the proceed. Democratic leaders are vowing to fight both the bill and the process that brought it about.

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SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MINORITY LEADER: We will not stand for the roosts that they went through today to try and move the bill along and we are going to fight and fight and fight and fight until this bill is dead.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: Our job is to make sure all Americans have health care not throw 22 million people off the care they have.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Health Care is a basic human right and we are here to fight for your basic human right.

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HAYES: Joining me now, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio who voted against the motion to proceed along with the other Democrats today. Senator, your colleague Mike Rounds of South Dakota says it`s the first step towards lower premiums, lower deductibles, better access. I assume you don`t think that`s true.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I don`t know that anybody believes that. The Congressional Budget Office said to pick the bill, either 18 or 22 or 30 million people lose insurance. Premiums in Ohio for a 60-year-old will go up over $1,000. Senator Heller from Nevada, Republican from Nevada said there`s nothing in this bill that would bring costs down. This bill is primarily a tax cut for the people that helped write the bill. The drug companies, the insurance companies, Wall Street, it`s a tax cut for them and it`s an attack on Medicaid. And it means that - I met a man at the Talbert House in Cincinnati, he said, with his daughter - his 30-year-old daughter sitting there, if we didn`t have Medicaid, my daughter would be dead. Because Medicaid has made such a difference in so many people`s lives in my state.

HAYES: Part of what is remarkable about this process is that Mitch McConnell keeps hiding what is actually happening and getting people to buy in on these incremental yeses, we`ll fix it later, we`ll fix it later, we`ll fix it later, so far, it`s working. But at a certain point, you guys in the Senate are going to have to vote on an actual thing.

BROWN: Well, that`s exactly right. And I - they seem to be avoiding that day. But you know, it`s - which door? Behind door number one, behind door number two, behind door number three? Behind which door of the Mitch McConnell magic trick - magic show, behind each door, higher premiums and less coverage for Ohioans or for Nevadans or for Kentuckians. It is the same in every one of his bills. It`s tax cuts for the drug companies, the insurance companies, the richest families in our country and it`s less coverage and less service and higher premiums for Ohioans.

HAYES: So then, well, the question is what can Democrats do right now? I mean, there`s very much all eyes on the country are on this. This is an incredibly important issue, it`s life or death for a lot of people, you guys are in the minority, what can you do?

BROWN: Well, what we do is we talk to people and listen to people. And I`ve talked to literally three or four dozen hospital administrators. If they`re small hospitals, they tell me their hospitals could very well close on these Medicaid cuts. It means they`re cutting back on services. It means, they`re laying off people. It means that people are losing insurance. I talked to people who treat opioid addiction, I talk to Children`s Hospital people and they`re all talking to their U.S. Senators and U.S. House members all over the country. That`s why this bill has about 15 percent public support.

HAYES: So, but -

BROWN: And I just can`t believe my - well go ahead, Chris.

HAYES: Well, no, I mean, they`re going to vote for it anyway though. At this point, the public support -

HAYES: I guess my question is will they?

HAYES: Well, I don`t know.

BROWN: Fundamentally you got 15 percent of the public (INAUDIBLE) bill, you have members of Congress who - all of whom have insurance paid for. Health insurance paid for by taxpayers that are - that are about to vote to take away insurance from millions of people who have 10 and 12 and $15 an hour jobs, people who have jobs but don`t have insurance like we do. And I can`t believe frankly morally that me and my colleagues, in the end, are going to step up and vote for tax cuts for the richest contributors and take insurance away from so many who work hard but simply aren`t lucky enough to have health insurance.

HAYES: What is the psychology of a Senator in this situation right now because I think the idea is you`re in for a penny, in for a pound. Is anyone going to have the wherewithal to back out?

BROWN: I don`t know. I think that they`re listening to their biggest contributors. A Republican Senate colleague of mine told me that he was raising money for another Senator and he said all kinds - he called one person after another who was saying, I`m not going to help that Senator unless he helps President Trump repeal the Affordable Care Act.

HAYES: Right.

BROWN: So the pressure of money is so great here but the public pressure is greater. And Democracy has worked so far. I mean, it`s taken them seven months to do this. You know, Chris, when you and I talk in January, none of us thought that this bill would be anything but quickly moving through Senate and the House and the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. It is because of public pressure in Mansfield, in Youngstown, and Toledo, and Dayton, and all over my state and all over the country that`s made a lot of House and Senate members sit back and think, I`m not so sure we should take insurance away and give a tax cut to the drug companies.

HAYES: Senator Sherrod Brown, thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

HAYES: Next the President continues publicly berating Jeff Sessions. And tonight, breaking news in Washington Post, apparently the Attorney General has no plans of resigning. The latest after the two-minute break.

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TRUMP: I am disappointed in the Attorney General. He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and I would have quite simply picked somebody else. So I think that`s a bad thing not for the President but for the Presidency. I think it`s unfair to the Presidency. And that`s the way I feel. I told you before, I`m very disappointed with the Attorney General. But we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.

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HAYES: The President of the United States continues to publicly humiliate his Attorney General. In addition to those comments next to the Lebanese Prime Minister in the Rose Garden today, the President tweeted this morning, "The Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a very weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes - where are E-mails and DNC server - and Intel leakers. The President also unloaded in the interview at the Wall Street Journal saying he`s "very disappointed in Sessions" and is "looking at firing him." Now, Sessions was the very first Senator to endorse Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) the MAGA cap at a rally in his home state of Alabama all the way back in February. But Trump is playing that down that endorsement telling the Journal "He was a Senator from Alabama, I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers, but he was a Senator, he looks at 40,000 people, he probably says, what do I have to lose and he endorsed me. So it`s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement." Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation in March after it was revealed he had met twice with the Russian Ambassador while working on Trump`s campaign, meetings that Sessions did not disclose during his confirmation hearings even though he was asked about them under oath. That recusal eventually led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a development that now appears to threaten Trump`s Presidency and now has turned the President against his own Attorney General. Joining me now, Pulitzer Price Winning Reporter, Sari Horowitz who covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post. You have a story that just went out with some of the latest developments. What is happening now?

SARA HOROWITZ, WASHINGTON POST JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: Well, as you just said, this is just an extraordinary spectacle playing out in Washington over the last couple days and especially the day when the President tweeted about his Attorney General`s weakness and then went out in the Rose Garden and again made disparaging remarks as if Jeff Sessions doesn`t know already that he`s disappointed in him, really keeping him twisting in the wind. But back at the Justice Department, I was at the Justice Department all day today. No indication that the Attorney General will resign. In fact, quite the opposite. I asked him last week when the first disparaging comments were made by the President whether he was going to resign and he said no. I love this job. We are doing the work of the Department. We`re moving forward and it felt the same way at the Justice Department today. He`s moving forward on this conservative agenda and at the end of the day today, in fact, the Attorney General announced a crackdown on so called sanctuary cities. The Justice Department is going to withhold some funding from cities who don`t cooperate with Federal Immigration Officials. And tomorrow we`re hearing, either tomorrow or the next day, Sessions is going to announce leak investigations. Exactly what Trump was complaining about that he hadn`t been doing.

HAYES: You know, Jeff Sessions is a sort of a hero, I would say, to the kind of Breitbart set - the publication that was published by Steve Bannon and works in the White House. So he called it was said it was a platform for the alt right. Breitbart and that part of the right, the alt right and other parts of the right have rushed to Sessions` defense in quite a spirited manner. It seems to me it`s perhaps not coincidental this announcement about crackdown in so called sanctuary cities as he is in the bunker taking incoming from the President of the United States.

HOROWITZ: Yes, except, I got to tell you, of all the cabinet heads, Jeff Sessions is the one who has done the most since he came in on February 9th until now, to push forward the conservative agenda of President Trump. I mean, he, in terms of criminal justice, civil asset forfeiture cracking down on immigration, he has been moving forward methodically undoing the policies of President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder and putting in his own. So it`s not really a surprise if Breitbart or Rush Limbaugh or conservative or conservative Senators would come to his defense because he represents the base.

HAYES: Yes, exactly. Going back to the sort of model of the war on drugs, escalating sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, civil assets forfeiture, in which your property can be taken even before you`re convicted of a crime. He sort of pursued all those agendas. What is remarkable also here is that all of the President`s interview with Lester Holt in which he was very open about the fact that he was explicitly thinking about Russia when he fires his FBI Director after telling him to basically back off Flynn. The President is telegraphing here, he doesn`t like Jeff Sessions because Jeff Sessions recused himself in such a fashion that he could not control, direct or manipulate an investigation into the President.

HOROWITZ: And what is so interesting here is he complain that Jeff Sessions didn`t tell him about this ahead of time. But Jeff Sessions really wouldn`t know ahead of time that there was this kind of Russia investigation going on before he came in and that he would have to recuse himself. Career Justice Department Lawyers came to him when he first got there and said, look, this would be a violation because you were on the campaign. You can`t oversee this investigation. And seriously, all lawyers would agree that this would have been the right thing to do and it was the right thing for him to recuse himself. And ironically that is the thing that the President is criticizing him about.

HAYES: We should also note that part of that recusal is the President - that Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, when a Senator and a nominee under oath said he didn`t have any dealings with Russians, he then had to revise that statement. He met twice with Kislyak. He then had said that he didn`t talk about the campaign. There`s reporting indicating that intelligence intercepts indicate that Kislyak said he did talk about the campaign with Jeff Sessions. So Sessions sort of has his own issues in terms of the veracity of the statements on this particular matter.

HOROWITZ: Yes, exactly Chris. The Washington Post reported last week that according to intercepts and information from Kislyak to his Russian superiors, he said he had substantive conversations with Jeff Sessions. And Jeff Sessions has said publicly and testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he doesn`t recall those conversations. That is a problem. It is a cloud hanging over him. And let me point out that this issue about the recusal happen in March. I think he recused himself, I think it was March 3rd. So since then, the President has been basically freezing him out. He`s been disappointed, annoyed with Jeff Sessions all these months. We are just hearing about it publically but this has been an issue for the Attorney General all this time.

HAYES: This - what`s so strange about this, the sort of titanic levels of passive aggressiveness. I mean, the President has the power to fire the Attorney General. If he doesn`t like the job he`s doing, he can do that. It seems that Jeff Sessions recognizes that despite the fact his catch phrase was you`re fired, the cold truth about the president is, he doesn`t actually like firing people.

HOROWITZ: Correct. And what we`ve been told is that people at the Justice Department close to Jeff Sessions made it clear to the White House that he`s not resigning. And so it`s sort of a situation where he`s kind of if the President wants to fire him, I mean, he`s going to have to fire him. And when the President was asked today by a reporter in the Rose Garden, are you going to fire him, he said, you know, we`ll see. Time will tell. Time will tell.

HAYES: All right, Sari Horowitz, thanks for being with me.

HOROWITZ: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, Paul Manafort cuts a deal to avoid public hearing. Is Jared Kushner is on Capitol Hill once again? The latest on the Russia investigations after this quick break.

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HAYES: Some late breaking news in the ongoing Russia investigations of Trump campaign, former Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, narrowly avoided publicly testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Russia interference in the 2016 election. Manafort is making plans to speak with Senate Investigators in the future leaving the Committee to drop the subpoena they had issued him this week. Earlier in the day, both Manafort and Jared Kushner, President son-in-law, Senior Adviser, spoke to Congressional Investigators on that same issue. Manafort spoke to the Staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kushner to the Members of the House Intelligence Committee where he was questioned for nearly three hours. On Monday, Kushner made a public statement denying collusion with any foreign governments during the campaign before himself speaking with Senate Staffers. Crucially, none of those conversations of neither of those two men have been public even as questions pile up about a meeting in June 2016 between Manafort, Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer in hopes of finding dirt on Hillary Clinton supplied by the Russian government ahead of the November election. The meeting was set up by Trump Jr. who was offered shifting explanations behind who was present and what exactly went on. President Trump today again called the investigation a "witch hunt" and said Kushner "did very well yesterday." Why the people in Trump`s orbit are so eager to avoid public testimony is next.

HAYES: Congressional investigators this week are pressing Trump associates about Russian interference in the presidential election, including any potential ties with the Trump campaign. Three separate congressional committees are in touch with associates to the president. There`s also, of course, the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller even as speculation has swirled. The president could try to remove Mueller somehow, perhaps by first removing the attorney general.

As we mentioned earlier, Attorney General Jeff Sessions currently appears to be in peril, precisely because the president is upset he recused himself from the Russian investigation is making it harder for the president to try to quash or control Mueller`s efforts.

So far, however, despite all the president`s efforts, investigations continue to peel back the layers of Russia`s role in the election.

Joining me now, former Watergate prosecutor and MSNBC contributor Jill Wine-Banks and Bob Bauer, former White House counsel to the president.

Bob, let me start with you, because I`m kind of confused about the back and forth that`s happening about the subpoenas. I mean, congress can issue subpoenas to whoever they want. Those people have to come before or essentially take the fifth is my understanding. What is the substance of these negotiations whereby they cut these deals where they don`t have to testify?

BOB BAUER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Congress is primarily interested in getting the information. And the counsel to the witnesses are often, depending on the witnesses, primarily interested in doing so in terms of their most favorable to their clients.

So, there`s often a negotiation that leads to accommodation. And as you point out, sometimes the information is preliminarily obtained in closed door settings without scrutiny.

There`s an advantage to that, by the way, also from the investigation`s point of view and that is that witnesses are not observing what others witnesses are saying out loud in public on television.

HAYES: Yeah, Jill, I`ve heard other folks say the same thing that from obviously from a journalistic perspective, I like people to testify in open hearing so we that can report on it and talk about it, but from an investigative perspective, it is actually better if they`re not doing that. Do you agree?

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: There are two things. One, as a citizen, I like you as a journalist want to hear what`s going on. I want to know what`s happened in our country so that I know how to vote and what to do.

So that`s one side of it.

In terms of as an investigator, as a lawyer in a prosecution, it doesn`t matter one way or the other. You`re getting the information that you need. And if a witness is more comfortable in a secret setting, that`s okay too. Eventually, the congress may want to have this public so that the American people know. The prosecutor will always do it in a private setting, in grand jury, where it wn`t ever be public.

HAYES: Bob, it appears that we are sort of in a kind of slow Saturday night massacre in this respectful. I mean, James Comey was fired. He was fired in the president`s own words while the president was thinking about Russia. That led to the appointment of the special counsel precisely I think for those reasons, right, we had evidence the president was essentially trying to squash this.

He`s now ruminating about removing the attorney general precisely because of the fact that he recused himself.

What would happen, what it precipitate in a sort of technical sense were the attorney general to be removed?

BAUER: At that point, it is not clear which of the scenarios the president would pursue. But he would be looking, of course, for some leadership in the department, either a new attorney general or an acting attorney general, conceivably he would pursue both at the same time, because a new attorney would require confirmation by the Senate, and that might, to his mind, clear the way for him to not just -- and I heard you make this comment earlier, and I think it`s correct, not necessarily only to terminate Mr. Sessions so he may have that in mind, but to put himself in a position where he believes there are people who are answerable to him who will do more to control the Mueller investigation, to oversee the Mueller investigation, to, for example, arbiter some of these conflicts that have alleged -- that have been alleged against the Mueller team, or to pay attention to whether they`re somehow some expansion that alarms the president in Mr. Mueller`s mandate.

HAYES: Jill, I keep thinking that were I Robert Mueller or were I employed by Robert Mueller in this investigation, you would have to be sort of conducting yourself as if every day might be your last, sort of constructing some kind of dead man switch, a time capsule that can be preserved in the event that the thing that the president has quite clearly signaled, which is that he does -- if he can find a way to get your out of your job, get your out of your job, that the -- whatever findings you`ve had would be preserved, right?

WINE-BANKS: Yes. And I have two things to say about that. One is during Watergate, we actually faced this. When we had the press conference on what was the morning of the Saturday night massacre. We didn`t know what President Nixon was going to do, and we were worried that what happened would happen, which is the FBI seized our offices and barred us from taking any documents out.

But we had done something with very careful consideration, we had already removed copies of every single important document and purloined them in a way to our own homes where luckily we never had to face the ethical dilemma of what we would have done if we had to disclose information. That would have been a horrible ethical dilemma, but it was something we felt we had to do to protect America at that point.

And so that is something that maybe he`s thinking of now to order to protect the investigtion and the integrity of out government.

HAYES: Bob, you were the White House counsel for President Obama. And I believe you were there while there was at least a Republican House, if I`m not mistaken, and perhaps a Republican Senate as well. But this sort of thought experiment I think can get worn out, but I think it is useful in this circumstance. Can you imagine if the president fired the FBI director because he was investigating President Obama, if he mused about firing his attorney general, because he didn`t recuse himself, how a Republican congress would have reacted to that?

BAUER: I don`t think it would have reacted favorably. I don`t think there`s anything in the history of that period that suggests that`s the case and I -- again, it`s awfully hard to put ourselves into what can that thought experiment because no president that I remember, and I did live through Watergate, went about, shall we say, the business of dealing with the Department of Justice in the way that this president has. And, so beginning with early in his tenure, firing the FBI director, now the drama with Sessions, any number of issues that you mentioned previously, all of them represent, shall we say precedenting behavior by the chief executive.

HAYES: Carefully worded, as always. bob Bauer and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you for joining me. I appreciate it.

Coming up, why are Republicans desperately trying to pass a bill that no one seems to want? Sam Seder and Charlie Sykes are here to talk about the baffling Republican strategy and what Senators talk about when they think no one is listening, an incredible hot mic moment. Thing One, Thing Two starts next.

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HAYES: Thing One tonight. We played a clip from Texas. Congressman Blake Farenthold last night speaking about Senate Republicans who do not agree with him on repealing Obamacare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD, (R) TEXAS: Some of the people that are opposed to this, there are some female senators from the northeast. If it was a guy from south Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr style.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: One of the three female Republican Senators he seemed to be implying, just one of them is actually from the northeast, that would be Maine Senator Susan Collins. And today, Collins was overheard on a hot mic following a budget hearing saying this to Democratic Jack Reed.

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SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?

SEN. JACK REED, (D) RHODE ISLAND: I know. Trust me. Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? Because you could beat the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of him.

COLLINS: He`s huge. And he is so -- I don`t mean to be unkind, but he`s so unattractive it is unbelievable.

REED: I saw the -- you know...

COLLINS: Did you see the picutre of him in his pajamas next to this bunny -- Playboy bunny?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES: OK, this is the, by now, infamous photo that Senator Collins is referencing. It`s taken back in 2009. And the individual in the duck pajamas, that`s the congressman currently threatening a duel.

Now, this afternoon Collins said she received an apology from Farenthold and that she offered her own apology.

But Collins didn`t only talk about Farenthold on that hot mic, she talked about the Trump administration. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

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HAYES: Republican Senator Susan Collins was caught on a hot mic today talking to Democratic Senator Jack Reed. Collins reportedly calling the White House budget proposal incredibly irresponsible. But then the two seemed to discuss President Trump. At one point referencing the president`s speech Saturday at the commissioning of the USS Ford.

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REED: I think he`s crazy.

COLLINS: I`m worried.

REED: I don`t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.

Oof, and you know, this thing -- if we don`t a budget deal...

COLLINS: I know.

REED: We`re going to be paralyzed. DoD is going to be paralyzed, everybody is going to be paralyzed.

COLLINS; I know.

REED: And he hasn`t one word -- one word.

COLLINS; I don`t even think he knows that there is a BCA or anything. I really don`t.

REED: no, he was down at the Ford commissioning saying, "I want them to pass my budget.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES: Afterwards, Senator Collins office sought to clarify the I`m worried comment writing in part, "Senator Collins is worried that the elimination of transportation and housing programs in the president`s budget request.

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HAYES: That applause was for Senator John McCain who flew 2,300 miles less than two weeks after brain surgery to help his colleagues move one step closer to passing a health care bill that is polling at 17 percent.

And if the bill passes, McCain`s vote will also help the man who once criticized his military service by saying, quote, I like people who weren`t captured. He will help him score a big legislative victory.

Now, all 48 Democratic Senators voted against that procedural motion today, meaning just three Republican votes could have stopped it, but only Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against the motion.

There were others, like Senators Dean Heller and Ron Johnson, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore-Capito who heading into today`s vote had raised serious concerns about the Senate`s health care plan. Heller, for instance, perhaps realizing the Senate Bill would have a very significant and deleterious effect on the working poor in his state said last month, quote, I cannot support legislation that takes away insurance from hundreds of thousands of Nevadans. Senator Capito of West Virignia said as recently as last week she continues to have serious concerns about the Medicaid provisions, which leads to the question why are these Republicans now moving towards embracing something that is so unpopular, something that could jeopardize health coverage for millions of Americans and their constituents and that perhaps could also cost some of these senators their careers.

We`ll try to answer that questions next.

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TRUMP: We ended up with 51 votes, 51 to whatever. I don`t know what it is. Yeah, 51-50. So we had two Republicans that went against us, which is very sad, I think. It`s very, very sad for them.

But I`m very, very happy with the result. I believe now we will, over the next week or two, come up with a plan that`s going to be really, really wonderful for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Joining me now Charlie Sykes, MSNBC contributor, editor Right Wisconsin; Sam Seder, MSNBC contributor, host of The Majority Report.

Charlie, let me start with you. So, you know, the argument here, and you saw Mitch McConnell and everyone makes it, it`s never an affirmative argument for the law. It`s basically that we promised we`d do this. Something must be done. This is something. Ergo this must be done, right?

But at some level, that is -- I guess my question is, why are they doing it? Are they just essentially doing it because they said they would and now they have to do something?

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR, RIGHT WISCONSIN: Yes. I think largely that`s the dynamic. I mean, obviously there are principled objections here. But the vote today was really the easy vote. Everything gets harder and it gets uglier going forward. And Mitch McConnell did come up with a pretty good talking point on this which is if you voted against this move to -- this procedural motion, then basically you were voting for the status quo. You clearly did not want to do anything. So for a lot of the senators who I think are going to vote against the Senate bill, vote against the House bill, against the repeal bill, this was the easy vote to at least show that they want to do something, that they want to actually have some kind of a debate.

But, yeah, I think we`re in a Kabuki dance right now. By the way, Chris, you`ve done a really good job in pointing out that all the obituaries have been premature. But here it goes, repeal is dead. Repeal and replace is dead. And now we`re looking at this skinny bill, whatever the hell that is.

HAYES: So I think you read this differently.

SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: Yeah.

HAYES: And here is how -- someone had this great. I think it was Peter Sederman said today that McConnell has actually got a short of ingenious strategy, which is borne of weakness, let`s be clear. Like he`s working with a razor thin margin, which is you just get people to take little "yes" steps and then you build up a chain of "yeses and then after you voted yes enough and you turn around to Dean Heller and say, buddy, I`m sorry, man, you have already got all these yeses. They`re going to hammer you either way. You`ve got to vote for the final thing.

SEDER: Yeah. It`s like if you`ve ever bought a used car or this is how it works. You add on 50 bucks here, $75 bucks there. All of a sudden you`re paying $500, $600, $700 more than you thought you were going to pay at the beginning of the process. And that`s what is happening.

I mean, look, it -- this was an easier vote than they will be in the future, but the calculation is still the same. Mitch McConnell can still say after a bill comes out of conference and say, hey, it`s either this for you`re basically voting for Obamacare and folks have to remember, Donald Trump is still above 50 percent approval rating in 17 states around the country and when it comes to Republicans, the reason they exist is to get tax cuts, and if this doesn`t happen, the permanent tax cuts that they want, everything else becomes a lot harder to do because the momentum is against the tide. Then people have shown you can buck President Trump and there`s no problems.

I mean, that`s why he went to West Virginia to talk to those Boy Scouts, it was because if Capito votes against this...

HAYES: It`s dead.

SEDER: It`s basically the most popular place in the country, you`re voting against the president.

HAYES: That point, Charlie, it strikes me as important is that this would be seen as Waterloo, right. I mean, the idea of anything, of them doing anything would die if this thing dies is how they understand it and probably they understand it properly that way.

SYKES: Yeah. But understand this, to vote no today is to vote against this blank. But you`re going to have a series of votes on some very specific pieces of policy. And I think a lot of those senators are going to look at this and go, OK, this is a crap sandwich. I`m not going to eat this. This is not on the menu for me.

And so I do think, by the way, the analysis that you and Sam gave is something to pay attention to. But understand that a lot of these senators, when they have to vote on the substance, when they have to vote on the cuts. When they have to vote on the subsidies, the slush funds, all of the games and -- this thing has really become a mess. Not to mention the fact that the procedure right now, the procedure, the policy is almost literally indefensible.

And I think you saw that from John McCain who voted to advance it, but then basically called out his colleagues that this is just -- this is legislative malpractice.

HAYES: Yeah, I mean, the procedure is literally indefensible in the sense that even John Cornyn today -- I mean, no one defends the procedure. Mitch McConnell, I think to his credit, doesn`t pretend to couch it in sanctimony. He just...

SEDER: They didn`t hold hearings for a Supreme Court justice. I mean, this is simply the next step. This is exactly that same...

HAYES: This is the next step. That is correct.

SEDER: We`ll move ever incrementally and pretty soon all these procedures go away, all of these processes. And, look, Charlie is right in so far as they`re going to vote against the next series of bills, because there`s other things on the menu. But at one point there ends up being just one thing on the menu...

HAYES: That`s the big question.

SEDER: And the other thing is, you...

HAYES: You support Obamacare.

SEDER: So, here`s my question to you, Charlie. Charlie, you`re someone who -- conservative radio host and a Never Trumper, but someone who is part of the group of conservatives who said we want to repeal the ACA and we`re sort of on board of that agenda. And it seems to me that what is happening right now in the Senate has nothing really to do with Donald Trump, this is basically what we would be getting if we had President Marco Rubio, if we had president -- like, this is the core of the Republican Party and their agenda playing out right now in the Senate. It`s not some Trumpian breaking of norms.

SYKES: Well, that`s true. I mean, obviously Donald Trump has put his own signature, his lack of leadership and interesting in the actual substance of the policy on all of this, but, yeah, and part of the problem is that after seven years, what became very obvious was that the Republicans and conservatives did not have a coherent governing alternative. They were talking about this. It was easy to vote against it when it was a straight repeal, but once it`s become the part of the fabric, they are unable to come up with a legislation that can plausibly say this will actually solve the health care problem.

Now, maybe it will solve certain fiscal issues. It will lead to the tax cuts. But will it actually improve health care? That`s almost not even on the table and I think this -- this would reflect a significant flaw in Republican and conservative thinking over the last decade.

HAYES: Well, that to me is what is so crazy, is the mismatch between you can say -- and the thing is that lots of the critiques in our sense are correct, like there are lots of high deductible plans on those insurance exchanges that people don`t like. Premiums are going up. Those are true. But the bill doesn`t solve any of those.

SEDER: No. Because the problem is all the critiques are from the left. All the critiques are from the left. And, look...

HAYES: It costs too much. People -- right.

SEDER: It is the caricature that supposedly liberals have had of Republicans for a long time. They don`t care about health care. And they don`t. They are proving it now because they never came up with a plan.

HAYES: Do you think, Charlie that when it comes down to it, can you imagine anyone not knuckling under? I mean, you know, ultimately to Sam`s point, right, you`re going to get a lot of things that you get to vote "no" on until you get to the thing where Mitch says, this is it, Dean. This is it, Shelley Moore. We need you on this.

Can you imagine them saying no?

SYKES: Yes, I can. Although, you know, history is a guide here. A lot of these folks have knuckled under in the past. A lot of people, you know, think that if you can just give a speech and everything then you roll over. On the other hand, look, this is the most important piece of legislation, affects people`s lives. This has real world consequences. This is not some esoteric budget bill. And I think this makes it harder. Every single day that this goes on, it makes it harder to pass, you get more information about this legislation.

And if you get to the skinny repeal, which seems to be the skinny bill that they`re talking about. I think that you`re going to be looking at, and people are going to go, OK, how does that actually fix any problem? OK, it scratches our ideological itch, but what will the effect, will it unravel the exchanges? Will it create more chaos? And will we, in fact, own all of that?

So, we`ll find out relatively shortly.

HAYES: Scratching the ideological itch is a good phrase.

And if it goes to conference, there`s a whole other chapter we`re going to get to as we watch this play out.

Charlie Sykes and Sam Seder, thanks for joining us.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.

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