All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/26/2017 The Trump Offensive

Guests: Jim Himes, Nick Akerman, Rachael Bade, Tammy Duckworth

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: July 26, 2017 Guest: Jim Himes, Nick Akerman, Rachael Bade, Tammy Duckworth

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: - in the Attorney General.

HAYES: The President continues his attack on his own Attorney General and now his Acting FBI Director.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, I think that the President is disappointed.

HAYES: Tonight Donald Trump`s latest assault on the rule of law and growing fears of a slow motion Saturday night massacre. Then did the President just ban transgender Service Members so he could pay for a wall with Mexico? Plus, Mitch McConnell`s final push to bait-and-switch his own caucus.

TRUMP: I think you`re going to have a great health care.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. It is beginning to look like to borrow a phrase from the Watergate scandal, a slow motion Saturday night massacre. President Trump is bullying and intimidating the people in his own administration connected in any way to the Russia investigation amid the looming threat of the potential firing of Robert Mueller, the man leading that probe. Now, today in what one Republican Congressman called an insulting and inappropriate public waterboarding, the President yet again attacked Jeff Sessions for the third day in a row. As The White House refused to say when the President still has confidence in its own Attorney General.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he fully have confidence in the Attorney General to carry out his duties from this day forward?

SANDERS: The President wants the Attorney General to focus on his duties as Attorney General. And I think we`ve both spoken about that pretty extensively and I don`t have anything else to add.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: In today`s tweet attack on Sessions, Trump went after his Acting FBI Director as well, "Why didn`t AG Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of the Clinton investigation but got big dollars $700,000 for his wife`s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the swamp." The attack on McCabe for the record mangles the timeline and the source of the money which did not come from Clinton. PolitiFact rates it mostly false. But it is in line with the President`s other attacks on anyone with ties to the Russian investigation which boiled down to this. Everyone involve in the investigation is compromised, and so whatever they eventually tell you, no matter what evidence they find, it must all be a lie, which is a pretty astounding claim in light of who he is going after.

Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, a career Department of Justice employee, once nominated to the U.S. Department of Appeals by George W. Bush. Trump questioned his integrity by stating wrongly that Rosenstein is from Baltimore adding, "there are very few Republicans of Baltimore." Former FBI Director James Comey who was of course fired by this President, attacked repeatedly afterward. Also longtime Republican who served in three GOP administrations, Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel now leading the FBI investigation almost universally hailed as man with impeccable credentials and integrity. Trump says Mueller can`t be trusted because he interviewed the FBI Director and didn`t get the job.

Then there`s McCabe who Trump accuses of ties to Hillary Clinton event though McCabe spent his entire career in the FBI, has no known political affiliation. And of course we come the Jeff Sessions, he was famously the very first Senator to endorse Trump and became a key member of Trump`s campaign. These are the people in Trump`s own administration who the President is bullying and attacking, and they have one thing in common and only one thing really, other than the fact that they might literally all be Republicans, is that they`re all tied to the Russia investigation, have in turn all had their integrity questioned by the President. Sessions of course, is no longer actively involved in the investigation, having recused himself in March paving a way for Mueller`s appointment which is precisely why the President is so furious at him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Only the President knows whether the political damage from trying on kill the Russia investigation would be worse than what that investigation might discover. There`s no question that he is trying to undermine the credibility of those working the case including Mueller who the President says would be committing "A violation if he looks into trump family finances." On Capitol Hill today, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, pressed the Assistant Director of the FBI`s Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap on whether investigators would need to examine financial records to make a Russian foreign influence case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Are an individual`s tax returns potentially very significant indeed often obvious investigative material?

BILL PRIESTAP, FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE DIVISION ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: A variety of financial records pertaining to any of the individuals, or entities involved, could be of importance, but -

WHITEHOUSE: Including tax returns?

PRIESTAP: Including tax returns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, Member of the House Intelligence Committee which is, of course, one of the entities investigating the Trump-Russia matter. It struck me today reading the President`s statements, particularly about Andrew McCabe that in any other time and any other administration, the President of the United States actively going after the Acting FBI Director while that FBI Director was involved in the investigation of this campaign, would be seen as a massive scandal and possibly have people start talking about impeachment.

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT ), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: You know, Chris, I`ve been saying for a while now that if this were all reversed, that if you know, Hillary Clinton were in the White House and Chelsea Clinton had had that Trump tower meeting where Chelsea Clinton says I love it around the possibility of getting from the Russian government, compromising information on Donald Trump, not only would we be consumed an impeachment proceedings but we would have right wing militias on the south lawn of the White House with torches in their hands. It just starting to me where we are today and the damage is just unbelievable, right?

I mean, the President has attacked his own Attorney General. I`m not a huge fan of Jeff Sessions but you know, here`s a guy who I think is trying to do a job in the tradition of Attorneys General in terms of keeping the Justice Department, being an independent arbiter of justice rather than some sort of praetorian guard for the President of the United States. You know, Donald Trump has gone to, he went to Clapper, he went to Comey, all the top national security officials and begged them to say that this is a sham investigation, even though we know it`s not. So you know, it just a dumpster fire down here.

HAYES: He - the President also - I mean, do you believe that the President just in what his public actions are, we don`t know what he is saying behind the scenes. We don`t know if he re-shouting Andrew McCabe privately, we may learn that in the future. We know he did it with James Comey but just in his public statements, the public, on the record statements, actively trying to influence, curtail or quash an investigation into his campaign.

HIMES: Yes. And he`s been doing this from day one. And the public can see that from what the public has - had available to it and guys like me who spend time in a classified environment know that even more. So here - and the thing that`s remarkable about this, Chris, it`s obviously huge damage to all sorts of institutions. The dignity of President, the independence of the FBI, the sense the Justice Department is actually about justice rather than being a protector of the President.

The thing that is truly shocking about this is that if the President, right after his inauguration, had come to realize that this could in fact be a story that would be dragged out for a long period of time, you know, make him look bad, hurt his agenda, he would have on day two said, hey, everybody who had any contact whatsoever with Russia, any kind of contact, any sort of back and forth, it comes out today. If that had happened, guys like me would be saying, hey, there`s the action of a smart and innocent individual. Instead he took exactly the opposite tack which anyone knows is it raises real questions about guilt and what else is being hidden.

HAYES: Well, respectfully Congressman, I would say, we don`t know if it is true because we don`t know what actually happened. It could be the case that if he had actually come clean on his second day in office, that would have been a massive scandal too because the underlying fact may have been incredibly shocking. We don`t know.

HIMES: That`s a - that`s a fair point. We don`t know. And of course, none of these investigations have run their course. But look, let`s take - let`s take the single piece of information we have that is most conducive to arriving at the conclusion that there might have been some link. And that, of course, is not some fake news, New York Times, Washington Post, Amazon, this is the President`s own son releasing his e-mails saying I went to a meeting with Russian government people to take information that was compromising - this is the President`s own son. So let`s even take out as an example. If that had come out on day two, you know, yes, it would have been pretty compromising but we`d be on to - well again, you point out we don`t know what else is there and we should stay open minded about that - but we`d be on to other things by now.

HAYES: All right. Do you worry about what you and your colleagues will do if this keeps being pressed? I mean, to me, the President appears to be sending a signal about what he wants done, right? I mean, he wants the investigation shut down. He appears to want Jeff Sessions out of there. He could fire him presumably. He appears to want Mueller done. At a certain point, the Congress are going to be the check.

HIMES: Yes, no, and that`s right. I think you`re seeing something pretty interesting right now. Like why out of nowhere does the President fire Jim Comey? He does that because he thinks he can. He can get away with it politically and perhaps he did. You know, he got away with it politically. But look the - look at where we are today. You know, just this morning, the President out of nowhere, without telling the Pentagon, decides he`s changing policy for 15,000 transgender armed service members. Joni Ernst, John McCain, Senator Grassley, all come out and say this is not OK. He`s having all sorts of problems on health care. You know, the Republicans here are in a different place than they were four months ago. And I think that the President worries, is at least told to worry, that if he fires Jeff Sessions, he might not get another Attorney General confirmed by the Senate. That - you know, this will really push the Republicans over the edge on Capitol Hill.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Jim Himes, thank you for being here.

HIMES: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: I`m joined now by MSBC Analyst Josh Earnest who is a former White House Press Secretary under President Obama and Nick Akerman, the former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Josh or Joshua Earnest, I was (INAUDIBLE) Joni for a second. The attacks on Sessions, aside from being humiliating and unseemly and bizarre, they are also - they strike me as an attempt to get him to quit so he doesn`t have to fire him. Why - what is your understanding of why he is doing this?

JOSH EARNEST, MSNBC ANALYST AND FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Chris, I had the same reaction. He is acting like somebody who doesn`t have the nerve to actually follow through in firing his Attorney General. So, he`s being as mean as he possibly can in the most passively aggressive way possible to try to get him to quit. But you know, Chris, what`s interesting to me is the strategy to the extent that there is one, does not appear to be the conventional strategy that you would recommend to somebody in the situation. Ordinarily, what you would try to do is marshal evidence, find validators on the other side of the aisle who would back up your side of the story. You go to great lengths to try to demonstrate what you`re doing the cooperate with the investigation releasing reams of pieces of e-mail, reams of pages of documents and e-mail, you know, agreeing to all sorts of questioning and doing it on the public to see you have the opportunity to tell your story. But that`s not at all what they`re doing.

Instead, what you see President Trump doing is throwing elbows and trying to basically incite a melee to try to cause mass confusion and to call into question just who is telling the truth and that`s why it`s so important. What you`re hearing from Democrats is not that Bob Mueller should really put the screws to the Trump administration. What Democrats are saying is, let`s just - let`s just have a fair and impartial investigation and get to the bottom of what`s actually going on here. Let`s have one place that can actually be our true north here in determining what exactly happened.

HAYES: You know, there` two issues here to Josh`s point, right? There`s the sort of status of the investigation and what that will do, but there`s - I feel like we`re just getting closer every day to some very fundamental, constitutional and institutional questions about the nature of American governance and democracy and executive power which is, can the President basically do whatever the heck he wants and the law be damned?

NICK AKERMAN: And he can`t because that`s not the way the law is. I mean -

HAYES: What is it though? I mean, I guess my question is, is it just restrained under both the sort of practical realities of the moment were in time, were in politically end the Constitution by impeachment as the ultimate check?

AKERMAN: No. But there`s all those things. There`s also institutional checks. The Department of Justice for years has been in a sense, an independent agency. The President doesn`t tell the Attorney General whether or not to prosecute Hillary Clinton, for example, or whether to bring charges or what kind of charges to bring. That`s not his job. He doesn`t do that. No one has ever done that.

HAYES: OK. But you said - well, first of all, no one has ever done a lot of things.

AKERMAN: Right.

HAYES: You say that now. I mean, the - that to me that`s the question. He is essentially on Twitter instructing Jeff Sessions to open a criminal case into Hillary Clinton.

AKERMAN: That`s right. And he`s also telling Jeff Sessions that even though he took ethical path that was correct in recusing himself, that he shouldn`t have done that. I mean, not only does he instruct the Attorney General on what to do ethically, which is unethical, but he instructs the Attorney General as to who to prosecute, and then he also instructs the Attorney General as to who should be fired and who shouldn`t be fired. All of those things are not the job of the President of the United States. And there is going to be pushback. There will be pushback within the Department of Justice, there`s going to be pushback within the Congress and I think if he actually takes the ultimate step of firing Sessions, you`re going to see a lot of people in Congress and a lot of people on the other side being the conservative Republicans, really starting to turn against him. And I think -

HAYES: You think that would be the Archibald Cox moment? That would be the Saturday Night Massacre?

AKERMAN: That would be the Archibald Cox moment. It will also be the Frank Delano Roosevelt moment when he tried to pack the Supreme Court. I mean, there are certain elements of fairness that people will not put up for if somebody comes in and tries to put the screws to it.

HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) is a great example, right? Because that was also a test of something which is that - you know, the Constitution doesn`t say, right? You put in 40 people if you can get to confirm them. And Josh, this goes to my point too about pressure, right? I mean, you`re saying he is doing this by the play book but he`s doing it by his playbook, which is pressure. Which is to get people to knuckle under, which is attempt to dominate and insult and so, you got Jeff Sessions announcing - Axios reporting this that he`s going to announce leak investigations. I mean, at a certain level, right, maybe this is effective.

EARNEST: Maybe it is effective. And Chris, I just keep going back to this because I think this really is the core of the whole thing. The strategy, again, to the extent that there is one, it is all rooted in the idea that Trump can sow so much chaos and confusion, that he can start - you know, essentially a melee in the bar at 2:00 a.m. such that people are breaking beer bottles over each other`s heads. And in Trump`s world, even if a couple of his own guys get hurt it`s worth it as long as there`s enough chaos to call into question exactly what the ground truth is.

And look, I hope that Nick is right that there is the intestinal fortitude among Republicans on Capitol Hill that if we do see President Trump take the extraordinary step of firing Bob Mueller or even firing his Attorney General so he can fire Bob Mueller, that there will be a check on that power in the legislative branch. Because thus far, we`ve seen President Trump take -- engage in a litany of unprecedented actions that sort of bump up against these norms and we have not seen Republicans do that thus far but I hope they have the will to do it.

HAYES: All right, Josh Earnest and Nick Akerman, thank you both.

Next, the President announces a new ban in the military on transgender service members in a series of tweets, a move coming as a surprise to many including the Pentagon. Why it might have been a tradeoff to help fund his border wall after the two-minutes break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Out of nowhere, today President Trump announced a new military policy on Twitter banning transgender people from serving in the U.S. Military. He wrote, "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory, cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical cost and disruption that transgender in the Military would entail. Thank you."

The Department of Defense was so blindsided by the President`s tweets that Pentagon officials eventually release a statement admitting the Defense Department has no plan to deal with the policy reversal and will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future. The new policy drew strong opposition from civil rights groups, from Veterans, from Democratic lawmakers, and also Republicans like Senator Joni Ernst, Senator John McCain, and Senator Orrin Hatch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: People who are transgender, they don`t choose to be transgender. They`re born that way. And why should we hold that against them? They`re human beings. And many of them are extremely talented human beings. So you know, we should be open to everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Just to be clear, that is the 83-year-old Republican Senator from Utah. So why did the President decide to reverse this policy? According to Politico, a Congressional fight over gender reassignment surgery threatens funding for his border wall. They report that Republicans wanted President Trump to settle the issue since the disagreement was holding up the Republican budget that included funding for his cherished wall. That`s the one that he said hundreds of times Mexico would pay for. But President Trump went farther than was being asked of him, deciding apparently to entirely ban transgender people from the military. One Senior White - one Senior House Republican aide telling Politico, "This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the White House set the whole table on fire.

Joining me now, Rachael Bade, the Political Reporter Covering Congress who co-authored Inside Trump`s Snap Decision to Ban Transgender Troops. So, my understanding from your reporting is, there`s a - there`s a fight in the budget bill about whether the Pentagon will pay for gender reassignment surgery which is a considerably narrower issue than whether transgender individuals can serve at all. They asked the President to do something and out of the blue, he just announces this entire ban.

RACHAEL BADE POLITICO, CONGRESS REPORTER: Not quite out of the blue. They want to pass this bill this week and they`re having trouble getting it through. Basically, House Republicans have the suspending package that`s supposed to be sort of like a messaging bill for Trump. It includes money for the wall, it includes the Pentagon close-up, it includes money for veterans but there are a bunch of Republicans who threaten to derail the bill as you said unless they inserted a provision that banned the Pentagon from using medical insurances that pay for transgender health care services such as sex changes, hormone therapy treatments.

And they couldn`t get this passed in the House because moderate Democrats - or I`m sorry, Democrats and Moderate Republicans have basically banded together to block this on the floor. However, they went to the White House and said, listen, if you can`t help us with this, this could potentially tank, which would be another headline of something that had failed when repeal has already stuck in the Senate and you know they`re dealing with the Russia scandal right now as well, so they wanted this to pass.

HAYES: Wait, so - OK, so, but this is a sticking issue, right? It`s like whether the Pentagon essentially - by the way, this - the Pentagon is already going to pay for this, right? This is the sort of side that`s picking a fight here, the people that want to put a provision and to stop them from doing that. And President responds without consulting his generals or the DOD, right, and then just announces this. so when he said I`ve consulted the generals, that was not true?

BADE: That`s exactly right. He went around (INAUDIBLE) this one, our sources are telling us. So, I am told by a number of House Republicans that`s they had been trying to get Mattis on this issue for a while. They`ve been calling him, he hadn`t been calling back, and when he finally called back last week, he said give me space to maneuver on this. It affects between 2,000 to 15,000 active military personnel. He wanted to think about this for a time and figure out the best policy the move forward. But Trump went around him when lawmakers came to Trump, never won for political correctness, right, Trump. So he basically overrode Mattis on this.

HAYES: Right. But he also just - he didn`t just override him, I mean, he was not truthful. Like he said this was - this was the product of consultation when it was not the product of consultation according to your sources.

BADE: So, we are told that Mattis sort of took himself out of this, sort of seeing where it was going. So, it`s not that he didn`t really know that it was coming but he obviously didn`t agree with it and he was going to let the White House do what they were going to do.

HAYES: All right, Rachael Bade, thank you.

BADE: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now, Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth. Senator, the President said in his statement this morning that this was an issue of cost and readiness and distraction. Do you think that`s true?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: No. It`s baloney, Chris. If you want to talk about it being an issue of cost, studies have shown that in 2016, the DOD spent with $5.6 million on health care for transgender service members. In 2015, the DOD spent $41 million on Viagra alone, 84 million for erectile dysfunction medication and treatment. So if they want to cut costs, I don`t think the 5.6 million in health care for transgender service men and women is place to look.

HAYES: What about this idea of readiness, that this is - somehow this is an issue of readiness and that it emanated from consultation with the folks over at DOD?

DUCKWORTH: My understanding is that this tweet caught the four service chiefs completely off guard. In fact, the DOD has come out in the past and say they can certainly work this issue. We have had transgender Americans serving with honor in the military. It did not affect unit readiness. And in fact, this is completely not the issue. This is an issue of the President appealing to his base or a handful of people. My understanding is they reached out to him through Steve Bannon and not - because they couldn`t get through to the Pentagon leadership who oppose this. Bottom line, the tweet from the Commander in Chief, the United States Military, is disruptive. And if somebody is averting readiness, it`s President Trump in tweets like this.

HAYES: What do you think is going through the minds of active service members, particularly those deployed overseas today?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I`m sure they`re wondering who the heck is their Commander in Chief. A guy who nerve served in uniform, a guy who obviously doesn`t understand the military. What you need to improve readiness is to spend money on more training for our service men and women, it`s to make sure they have all the equipment that they need to do their jobs, it`s to pass the defense budget and make sure that our men and women have all the support that they need to do their jobs. And instead, we have a Commander in Chief who instead of working on things like an authorization for the use of military force in the Middle East, is talking about transgender issues. It`s simply boggles the mind that this is what he`s spending his time on at a time when he should be coming up with a strategy on how to defeat ISIS.

HAYES: You know, there are - there are interesting responses this morning from a number of Senators, your colleagues, Republicans, Senator John McCain who came out against it. "No reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military regardless of their gender identity. Senator Joni Ernst herself like you, a veteran says, "As a veteran, she served alongside fellow service members from all different backgrounds, parts of the country. She believes taxpayers should not cover the cost associated with gender reassignment surgery but all Americans qualified, can meet the standards to serve should be afforded that opportunity." Were you - were you surprised by these responses? Is this what you would have expected to hear from your colleagues across the aisle?

DUCKWORTH: I think this is what I would have expected to hear. I mean, I think that if anyone who served in uniform understands the preciousness of Americans who are willing to lay down their lives to defend the Constitution and the values that we hold dear. And those men and women are the true national treasure he of this country. And if you want to serve this country and you want to risk your life to preserve our democracy, then you should be allowed to serve. In fact, diversity is what makes our military the greatest military on the face of the earth. It`s the fact that we have female service members that they were able to have female engagement teams in Afghanistan and collect intelligence from Afghani women.

The fact that we have Arab-Americans serving means that we have language abilities in the Middle East and having transgendered servicemen and women who are willing to share the load and the dangers, it`s just as important as anybody else. And at a time when less than one-half of one percent of our nations serves in uniform, we can`t afford to lose a single patriot who`s willing to wear that uniform. And to have a President who never served but instead got what, four, five deferments to avoid service in Vietnam, be a guy to question someone else`s patriotism because of their gender identity is sickening.

HAYES: Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, thank you for making time tonight Senator.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, even with the Republican President, Republican Congress, and seven years to prepare, Republicans are still unable to agree on the basics of the health care bill. Where repeal and replace goes from here, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: One day after Republicans voted to bring a health care bill to the floor, Senators are now trying to figure out what the bill actually looks like. Remember, Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have made repealing and replacing ObamaCare an absolutely existential central issue for years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We believe it`s really important to do an office what you said you would do. We said we would have a straight up or down vote to repeal this health care law.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) MAJORITY LEADER: There`s only one way to truly fix ObamaCare, only one way, and that`s a full repeal.

What I can tell you, that we`re 100 percent committed to - as a team - is to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

RYAN: ObamaCare will be gone.

TRUMP: We`re preparing to repeal and replace the disaster known as ObamaCare. We`re going to save Americans from this crisis.

MCCONNELL: It`s a pretty hot item on our agenda as you know.

TRUMP: You`re going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost and it`s going to so easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: For all the talk, however, they never apparently bothered to come one a workable plan. Instead, they are now at this very moment, debating what the basic framework for their health care bill should be. Already, two proposals have failed -- a repeal and replace strategy, voted down, a repeal only option, voted down, putting off the question of replacement for the time being. Even Republicans are confused about what the heck they are doing.

Here`s Senator John McCain today.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: is there a sense of how this thing resolves itself?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: No. Not that I know of. You`re a smarter guy than I am, maybe you`ve detected a path forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you think of any other major bill that you`ve worked on tha has been so uncertain as to what its trajectory is?

MCCAIN: No. Nope.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES: Coming up next, the Republican end game on health care just after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: In the past hour, the CBO just released a score for the latest Republican attempt to scrap Obamacare. You`d be forgiven if you`ve lost track of him by now. This one, the so-called skinny repeal, the scaled down version, it would leave 16 million more Americans uninsured by 2026 and crucially, also increase premiums by 20 percent more on average.

And it is far from a comprehensive health plan. This partial repeal bill, that`s the one that`s designed to get Republicans just something to pass, a piece of legislation, essentially just kind of a placeholder that then they can take to a conference committee with the House where the real work of crafting a bill would happen.

But here`s the thing, as Democratic Senator Chris Murphy points out, quote, a scaled back repeal bill just so Senate GOP can get to conference equals unconditional surrender of Senate GOP to the House bill. Since Senate would go to conference without a bill, effectively, the House bill would act as default for any negotiations, and negotiations would be minimal, because Senate GOP would have lost all bargaining power by their inability to produce a bill.

Now, we know what the House bill does. It`s already been scored by the CBO, which said it would increase the number of uninsured people compared to current law by 19 million in 2020, 23 million in 2026. And Trump celebrated the passage of the House version back in May before later calling it mean, mean, mean.

But, if the Senate in the next day truly abdicates its responsibility to come up with its own bill, if Senators pass a bill for show and then pass the buck to the House, that version, the mean one, might be very close to what becomes law.

With me now, Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

OK. The repeal and replace failed, clean repeal failed. They`re going to just basically -- here`s how I understand it, and tell me if I`m wrong, it seems like Mitch McConnell is going to the people in his caucus and saying just sign this check and I promise I won`t deposit it until you tell me it`s OK.

SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ, (D) HAWAII: I think that`s right. I think he has no idea how to cobble together 51 votes, and so he`s telling different members different things and asking them to believe that the final product will be whatever they want.

If you`re coming from a Medicaid expansion state, you`re being reassured that Medicaid won`t be harmed. If you`re Mike Lee or Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, you`re being reassured that this is going to be closer to a conservative version with massive Medicaid cuts and with the possibility of repealing most of the taxes in the Affordable Care Act.

And so where they end up is what they`re calling skinny repeal. But I`m worried that what`s going to end up happening is that they will get 51 votes, then they will go to conference committee, fail, and then the House will swallow this so-called skinny repeal. And so we can`t treat it just as a weigh station on the way to the conference committee, we have to treat this seriously as something that might become federal law.

And when CBO tells you that your backup plan actually takes 16 million people out of health care, maybe it`s time to start over, have some hearings and work through a bipartisan process.

HAYES: That`s a really excellent point, right. So, what you`re saying is, I was sort of saying well, this is a place holder to get a conference, but what your fear is, no, this actually becomes law, because this is far -- this is where the train stops. This is basically what they can get to. They then force the House to vote it, and now you have an actual policy. And it would raise premiums 20 percent.

My understanding is, are you concerned, it would also, I think, blow up insurance markets, or at least there`s a chance would it do that.

SCHATZ: Oh, I think it is a certainty. It would eviscerate the individual market to the extent that people sort of recognize that there is a real problem with the Affordable Care Act in that we have these, what they call exchange deserts. There are parts of the country, counties and even some full states that have zero, one or two insurers and it is very expensive. And there`s a way to solve that problem pretty straightforwardly with premium subsidies, but that is a real problem in the Affordable Care Act.

But if you`re worried about that, then you should be really worried about the thing that they`re trying to enact this week, because that would just essentially light the individual market on fire.

And there are not sort of two public policy sides to this argument. There`s nobody credible in health care that thinks that if you just repeal the mandate, that anything positive will happen to the individual market.

So this is a reckless policy all on its own. And I`m worried that people are sort of characterizing it as a sort of moderate weigh station. It`s really not that. 16 million people losing their insurance almost instantaneously. Insurance rates going up by 20 percent and insurance deserts all across the country and that`s their back-up plan.

I mean, this thing is in a bad way.

HAYES: That is -- that is very well said.

So, what you`re saying is fall back that they`ve ended on, which is the small, slimmed down thing, is basically the solution if it were to become law, is just to blow up the individual health insurance markets across the country starting immediately if it passed.

SCHATZ: Right. And go home for their congressional delegation trips and their family vacations. I mean, it is really bad. And I think the only reason that it hasn`t totally sunk in is that this is a new proposal. I mean, we have a new awful proposal every 24 or 48 or 72 hours. This is the latest. So, it takes some time for policy people and CBO and others to kind of analyze it and get the word out. This is a very frightening plan.

Now, I guess it is true that it is not as bad as 23 million people losing their health care, but 16 million is unacceptable.

And we just don`t have to do this to ourselves. We don`t have to do this to the American people. I understand that they have an imperative to fulfill their promise, but I will tell you that people across the country are terrified about what`s going to happen. And even people who thought they wanted the Affordable Care Act repealed are terrified of what`s going to actually happen now that we are on the precipice.

HAYES: All right, Senator Brian Schatz, thank you for joining me.

SCHATZ: Thank you.

HAYES: Ahead, following a bruising a cycle for the president, he retreats back to his base, ramping up ugly rhetoric, leaning in to the cultrue wars.

And it is payday in Thing One, Thing Two next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing One tonight, five times on a Friday when he took job as White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci stated that he loves this president. And that from what he has seen the American people feel that way too.

Today, in the first televised press briefing since Friday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, began with a tribute of her own to President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY : I`ve spent a lot of time around the president over the last year and I know exactly why he`s here. He`s tough. He`s a fighter. He`s a strong leader. And he is somebody who deeply loves this country. And he loves its people and he wants to make America great again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: But if her praise for the president was not enough, she announced that every once in a while they will be starting the briefings with a letter or an email beginning today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: My name is Dylan Harbin (ph), but everybody calls me Pickle. I`m 9-years-old and you`re my favorite president. I like you so much that I had birthday about you. My cake was the shape of your head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: But the odes to the president were not the only thing that happened in today`s briefing before the press could ask questions. It is the end of the quarter, means means, of course, it`s time for a novelty check.

And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Today, the president once again donated his salary, this for the second time of 2017 and the lucky recipient was...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Secretary DeVos, it`s my pleasure on behalf of the president of the United States to present a check for $100,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s all there is to it. That`s all there is to it. A winner!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES; We`ve added some sound effects there.

As NBC`s Peter Alexander pointed out, there is a pretty stark contradiction to this public spectacle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you just announced, the president is donating second quarter salary of $100,000 to the Department of Education, so clearly he must care about education. Why, then, is he calling for $9.2 billion in spending cuts to the Department of Education in the next budget?

SANERS: Look, I think that oftentimes you have a lot of duplicative efforts and they want to streamline the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Conservative commentator and writer Ann Coulter met weeks ago with Donald Trump, according to a story published yesterday in The Times, quote, Bannon brought Ann Coulter to see Mr. Trump. Ms. Coulter railed at the president that he needed to focus more on his core supporters.

But Coulter has long defended Donald Trump, occasionally warmed up crowds at his rallies, even wrote a book called "In Trump We Trust."

It is another book of hers, however, that the president has called a great read. That one titled, "Adios, America: the Left`s Plan to Turn our Country Into a Third World Hellhole."

With that one, exploits fears about Latina immigrants as violent, and recently with the arrival of the new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, the president appears to have rediscovered a kind of rhetoric that electrified his core supporters on the campaign trail.

Speaking in Ohio last night, the president talked about need to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, specifically because of foreign criminals. He appeared to reference a recent crime in which MS-13 gang members used machetes to kill four men from a rival gang.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You`ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don`t want to use guns because it is too fast and it is not painful enough, so they`ll take a young beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others, and they slice them and dice them with a knife, because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die.

And these are the animals that we`ve been protecting for so long. Well, they`re not being protected any longer, folks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Animals.

What can we expect from a president who is increasingly under siege? That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You people were vicious, violent, screaming, where`s the wall. We want the wall. Screaming, prison, prison, lock her up. I mean, you were going crazy. I mean, you were nasty and mean and vicious, and you wanted to win, right?

But now you`re mellow and you`re cool and you`re not nearly as vicious or violent, right? Because we won, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The president last December, part of his so-called thank you tour talking to his base.

Joining me now, Betsy Woodruff, reporter for the Daily Beast. Josh Barro, MSNBC contributor, and senior editor at Business Insider.

It does seem -- I mean, I don`t -- the president`s entire political strategy is to cater to his base. It seems in the last little bit that he`s been doing that with renewed intensity.

JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: Well, yeah, also, I think this trans thing is a little bit weird, because when you talk about catering to his base, it was very different from traditional social conservatives, very different from what the Republican Party was doing in 2004. It was very focused on immigration and policing and sort of issues that appealed to relatively non-religious northern white voters with whom the president had big improvements over past Republican nominees.

It`s not clear to me that this issue is a winner with him. I mean, we saw in North Carolina a governor`s race was basically about this and the Republican governor who had made this a signature issue ran behind Donald Trump.

Quinnipiac did a poll a few months ago, they asked people do you think that increasing acceptance of transgender people has been good for the country, and 41 percent of Americans said yes, 42 percent said they didn`t think it mattered either way.

And so what all I think that adds up to is that like the median voter just sort of doesn`t want a big fuss about this stuff. And if you kick thousands of people out of the military, you are making a big fuss about it. I don`t think this is a win in the way that he proved that some of these other cultural issues were a win for him.

HAYES: What do you think about, Betsy, the Coulter visit, and Bannon bringing Coulter in to be like, remember your base. And these last two events -- there`s the Boy Scout event, and then last night really felt -- that riff about the animals who are slicing and dicing people people, that was pretty intense demagoguery. We`ve seen it from him before, it was as intense as I`ve seen it from him as the president of the United States.

BETSY WOODRUFF, DAILY BEAST: Exactly. I think you can`t understand the immigration comment that he made last night without putting them in the context of the fact that he`s been going after his attorney general who has been the heart and soul of his immigration policy.

It`s no coincidence, in my view, that the president has presented himself over the last 24, 48 hours as hawkish as ever on immigration, when the one member of his cabinet who really genuinely in his heart of hearts agrees with the president on immigration is also the member the president has been threatening to fire over Twitter for the last couple of days. Those two pieces are very much connected. And I think part of this is probably the president trying to compensate for the fact that a lot of folks in his base are pretty concerned.

I spoke to Chris Crane, who is the president of the union that represents ICE agents responsible for detaining, arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants. You don`t get closer to Trump`s base than Chis Crane. And when I talked to them a couple of days ago, he said he was hesitant to criticize the president. He didn`t do that. But he said, look, Sessions is the best friend law enforcement agents have right now. We don`t want there to be any daylight between Sessions and Trump. We`re here for Sessions. We want him.

So when Trump starts demogoguing about gangs, I think that`s an important piece and that just vital context.

HAYES: Yeah, the Sessions thing is the one thing he`s doing right now, which is entirely out of line, right?

BARRO: Right.

HAYES: So, at one level there`s a sort of bunker mentality, right. So, he`s having trouble on Capitol Hill right now. He`s got this swirling investigation that keeps growing. You know, his approval rating is still around 39 percent or whatever. So, the sort of double down go to the base.

But at the same time he`s fighting with the guy who is like the troop (inaudible) of the base.

BARRO: Yeah, it was so explicit this morning. It`s like you get the tweets announcing out of the blue, this transgender ban in the military, and then minutes later you get more complaints about Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department basically almost making explicit that the trade is the Bannon wing is going to get to make policy and the Kushner wing is going to get to subvert the rule of law to keep themselves out of prison, which I don`t obviously think is a great trade for the country.

HAYES: Bad trade, yeah.

BARRO: For the country. But the other question is, can he sell that to his base? And what has he really delivered on immigration? I mean, he`s had ICE be nastier, which I guess is an important deliverable.

HAYES: Yes. Yes.

BARRO: But I mean, there haven`t been significant broader policy changes in terms of legal immigration. We`ve had the -- they`ve issued extra guest worker visas, that will be used, for example, at Mar-a-Lago. So, he`s delivered on stepping up enforcement on illegal immigration, he hasn`t delivered on changing changing broad immigration policies.

HAYES: Yes, although, what I would say, Betsy, and I wonder what you think of this is that it`s always been the case that it would be easier for him to hurt the people that he said he would hurt than to help the people he said he would help. And the stories that have come out about deportation and, you know, arrests at wedding ceremonies and things like that are examples of concrete tangible deliverables in that sense.

WOODRUFF: And additionally, a number of those deliverables are due to the policies and the changes that Jeff Sessions has made at the Justice Department. He has had every single U.S. attorney`s office in the United States, including offices and districts that are completely landlocked, pick one person to be the border security liaison, every U.S. attorney`s office.

He`s encouraged federal prosecutors to prioritize prosecuting people for just illegally reentering the country maybe twice. Federal prosecutors who have spoken to us anonymously have said this is not why they decided to become federal prosecutors. That`s a change that Sessions has made. And additionally, of course, a lot of the enforcement stuff, that`s coming from the DHS, that`s coming from Kelly. These are changes that are happening from his administration, from these two cabinet officials. There hasn`t been the public tension, with Trump and Kelly, but in terms of Trump and Sessions, if you`re talking about immigration, you have to talk about Sessions, it`s just key.

HAYES: All right, Betsy Woodruff and Josh Barro, thanks for joining us.

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

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