All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 8/1/17 The Trump Offensive

Guests: Richard Painter, David Cay Johnston, Michelle Goldberg, Olivia Nuzzi

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 1, 2017 Guest: Richard Painter, David Cay Johnston, Michelle Goldberg, Olivia Nuzzi

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And that`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He weighed in, offered a suggestion like any father would do.

HAYES: The White House caught red handed.

SANDERS: The President weighs in the as any father would.

HAYES: President Trump helped his son mislead the country about attempted campaign collusion with Russians.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It`s called opposition research.

HAYES: Tonight, the fallout from today`s admission.

TRUMP: As I see it, they talked about adoption.

HAYES: And the incredible new charges in a federal lawsuit claiming the White House, the President and the Fox News Channel coordinated a conspiracy theory to distract from Russian election interference. Plus about, those sanctions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has the President signed the Russia, North Korea, Iran Sanctions Bill?

SANDERS: I`m sorry, has he signed it -

HAYES: And how a Trump White House that ran on e-mail security fell for a two-bit e-mail prank.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I`m feeling the hook here.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Tonight the President stands accused of two very serious charges. First, that he personally dictated his son`s widely misleading initial statement about the now infamous meeting with the Russian lawyer and second, that he according to a federal lawsuit conspired with Fox News to push out a false and cruel conspiracy theory about a murdered DNC staffer in order to shift blame away from Russia and the Russia investigation. Much more on that latter claim ahead but first, to the Trump Jr. stand.

We recall that it was first reported that he and other Trump staffers have met secretly with the Russian lawyer during the campaign. Donald Trump Jr. claimed that and I quote, we primary discuss a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government. It was later revealed that adoption was not the purpose for that meeting at all. Rather, Trump Junior had eagerly set up the meeting after being offered dirt on Hillary Clinton straight from the Kremlin, a fact that appeared nowhere of course in that initial statement. Now, once those facts became public, President Trump`s lawyer Jay Sekulow claim the President had no involvement in drafting the misleading statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: The President was not, did not draft the response. The response was - came from Donald Trump Jr., I`m sure, in consultation with his lawyer. The President didn`t sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G-20. The statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr. I`m sure in consultation with his lawyers. The President wasn`t involved in that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEKULOW: Last night as we went to air, the Washington Post citing multiple sources that direct knowledge reported that contra Sekulow, the President had in fact personally dictated his son`s misleading statement about the meeting. And after we went off air, Sekulow responded that "apart from being of no consequence, the characterization are misinformed, inaccurate and not pertinent." Another Trump lawyer John Dowd said the story was and I quote, fake news, misinformed, incorrect and of no consequence. But then today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted that well, yes, indeed the President, in fact, help draft the statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: The President weighed in as any father would base on the limited information that he had. He certainly didn`t dictate but you know, he - like I said, he weighed in, offering a suggestion like any father would do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Like any father would do. Now, let`s consider the time line. The statement was reportedly drafted as the President was flying home from the G-20 summit last month where he met twice with Russian President Vladimir Putin. First during an official meeting and second during an undisclosed private conversation over dinner where the only other person present was a Kremlin provided interpreter. Here`s how the President described that second intimate one on one meeting in an interview with the New York Times.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did?

TRUMP: Russian adoption. I always found that interesting because you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him which is interesting because that was part of the conversation that Don had with this meeting.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES: Right. So according to the President, he has a conversation with Vladimir Putin about adoption and almost immediately afterward, according to the White House, he helps craft a grossly misleading statement about that Don Junior meeting claiming the meeting was primarily about adoption. It does make one wonder exactly the President and Mr. Putin discussed and whether Putin played a role in influencing the aggressively deceptive version of events Trump`s team relayed to the Press.

Joining me now, former Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor and MSNBC Legal Contributor Jill Wine-Banks and Richard Painter, Chief White House Ethics Lawyer under George W. Bush. So it now seems confirmed, Jill, counter - two of his lawyers which seem to happen to regular basis as someone comes out and says something on behalf of the President and is later undercut by the President or the White House, that he did in fact aid in drafting this. What does that mean to you as an investigator, as a lawyer in terms of what it means legally?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it means a couple things. In terms of Donald Trump`s, the President`s participation, it means that he may have committed an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy to cover up and that could be part of a criminal investigation so that Mr. Mueller should be looking at it. It also means that the lawyers misled the public, and probably violated their obligations as lawyers. They should have never said anything, other than my client informs me. That`s a basic that any trial lawyer learns is that unless you know for a fact something, you don`t assert it. And in this case, I am hoping they were misled, that they weren`t deliberately part of misleading the public but they should not have said what they said.

HAYES: Richard, you had this tweet which I thought was interesting. "You said knowingly drafting a false statement for a person who is a witness in a criminal investigation is itself a crime, obstruction of justice" strikes me that knowingly is key there.

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, yes. you know, I think, no father in his right mind would draft or weigh in on a false statement to be made by his son, a false public statement or any other statement about a matter in which there is an ongoing criminal investigation because once the son - here Donald Trump Jr. - says something in a public statement, he would be very likely to say the same thing to the Special Prosecutor. And lying to the Special Prosecutor is a crime. If he lies under oath, then it becomes perjury. And so this is a common strategy for obstructing justice, to get a witness to make public statements that present a story that is not true.

And I can`t imagine any father who would want to expose his own son to that in order to cover up something except I guess a father who has the power to pardon his son if his son is then convicted of perjury. But this is indeed obstruction of justice and we`ve already had obstruction of justice in the firing of James Comey. The reason for that was acknowledged in the Oval Office to the Russian Ambassador. Last week we had the attempt to fire Jeff Sessions in order to remove Bob Mueller. I would like to have one week from this White House where they don`t engage in any work of obstruction of justice but maybe that is just too much.

HAYES: Jill, to Richard`s point about the strategy behind the President helping craft a statement. I mean, it strikes me and maybe I`m wrong as fairly reckless. Given the fact that behind this sort of aggressively deceptive statement was a chain of e-mail that showed it to be totally wrong, that there was - there was in-writing in the inboxes of folks that I think it had already been discovered at that point saying no, they were offered dirt directly from, "the Russian government in their efforts to help Donald Trump get elected."

BANKS: Well, either he was acting in totally reckless disregard of the truth or he deliberately lied by knowing the truth. Either one is not a good option and I can remember as a child, my mother would never have even written a note saying I was sick if I didn`t want to go to school unless I was really sick. And I think this is the same thing. The president is writing for his son, making an excuse that isn`t true and if my mother had been his mother, that wouldn`t have happened.

HAYES: Part of this also, Richard it seems relates to the key question about that meeting which is by far o think is the most incriminating event that we`ve seen in all of this and that is what is President knew about it at the time. Whether he knew about it or he was briefed about it afterwards. What his level - the - we have been told by his lawyers who just told us something false a day ago, is that the President had no idea. Do you think given that we now know that the President wrote this, or helped craft this statement, it is credible, the President didn`t know about that meeting at the time?

PAINTER: Well, I don`t know. They just can`t tell the truth about anything having to do with the Russians. And it`s been going on for six months, going back to General Flynn lying about his contacts with the Russians. It has been lie after lie after lie. How much the President knew at the time during the campaign about the collaboration with the Russians, how much he suspected and just let other people do the dirty work. We don`t know. We`ll find that out. But just with - as with President Nixon was forced to resign over obstruction of justice, it`s not the question of whether the President actually ordered the break-in, or here whether the President collaborated with the Russians. People close to him clearly collaborated with the Russians.

I mean, that meeting in the Trump Tower was obviously collaboration with the Russians. And the President is repeatedly engaging in obstruction of justice and I have to say that in far more instances that I recall with respect to Nixon, and this is very troubling. He just won`t let it go. That`s what Nixon should have done with Watergate, just let it go, not talk about it, not try to obstruct justice, let the investigation take its course and that President Trump is making the exact same mistake although I think in many more instances, it`s really quite getting

HAYES: Jill Wine-Banks and Richard Painter, thank you both for your time tonight. I`m joined now by Author Michelle Goldberg and Columnist at Slate and Author, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning Investigative Journalist found at the D.C. report who has spent a lot of time in his career reporting on Donald Trump. And I`ll start with you David for that reason. Here`s what I find striking about this. I think even in the minds of people that are, view themselves politically opposed to the President, critics to the President, (INAUDIBLE), they don`t imagine him as a micromanager. They - I think they sort of - there`s this idea that he is sort of the center of this maelstrom and kind of checks in and checks out. This puts him I think for the first time very squarely in the center of managing all of this which strikes me as significant. How in line is that with what you know about him having reported on him for so many years.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, when Donald feels threatened by anything, a news story that will make him look bad which is a lot lower level of concern than this. Donald is an absolute micromanager. He will yell at associates about what he wants to be done. He will plant false stories, he will accuse people of misconduct when they behave perfectly properly. And so, his helping to draft this statement clearly is too polished for Donald to have done entirely on his own. It is not the least bit surprising and it`s part of his also control over his sons.

HAYES: You know, there`s also the degree of just - I mean, where there is one lie, there are many lies, I think is a good way to think about this White House, right? So, you know, here, we`re starting to pull the thread and we`ve seen this before. There`s no reason after we`ve had people look us in the eyes on their - you know, in front of the camera and lie about things to think that we know the full story now.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, SLATE COLUMNIST: Right, but it still I think discombobulating for people and they`re still getting used to Donald Trump`s very bizarre mixture of extreme candor in some circumstances and total mendacity in others, right? I mean, he actually - because he will admit to things and kind of brazen it out and say, you know - who wouldn`t have taken meeting? Or yes, I was thinking about James - I was thinking about the Russia investigation when I fired James Comey. And so, he`ll do these things and it almost makes him seem as if we can expect a level of frankness from him.

HAYES: Great point.

GOLDBERG: And then I think it takes people off guard when they realize with - that he will lie completely lie with kind of similar panache and similar kind of seamlessness as will his attorneys. That`s something we`re not really used to in American life, right? We`re not used to kind of assuming that as the attorney said it, it must at least be technically true -

HAYES: Right. The hedge, that attorney`s hedge in a very sort of narrow sense.

GOLDBERG: Right.

HAYES: And they`ll say sort of like weasel words as opposed to just -

GOLDBERG: Right. So when they make a kind of categorical statement, which should perhaps taken seriously -

HAYES: And reporters that you`re trained to do that, right?

GOLDBERG: That`s right. And so I think that people are still getting used to just the kind of fun house mirror way that these people present the truth.

HAYES: I think that Jill Wine-Banks for instance and David, I want to talk to you and Michelle about this, it also, I think puts the General Flynn moment in a new light. That was of course - that was the first domino to fall. That is the beginning of the causal chain that has brought us to all of this and Mueller. And it`s Flynn talking to Kislyak on sanctions day and then not telling the truth about it, right? It was that initial lie, the shifting stories in the White House and the idea always was that Flynn was freelancing and that the lies were being free-lanced by Flynn. But now, it seems a worthwhile question to ask whether the President was involved in that, given that he was involved in the Don Junior statement.

JOHNSTON: And I would say, of course, he was involved in that. Donald will jettison anybody when it`s in his interest to do so and that`s going turn out to be in his own children. You know, he`s put his sons here in jeopardy with these actions. I can`t imagine that there was a lawyer in the room who didn`t stay, assuming there was a lawyer, stay away from this Mr. President. You don`t want to be within a mile with this issue, keep your hands off. And Donald you know, buys people, he controls them, he uses his money and power to get them to do what he wants to do and the moment you`re inconvenient to him, and he`s better off without you, he`ll dump you. and that`s what we saw with Flynn

HAYES: Well, so here`s the next question is, the shape of the sort of defense is taking place which I thought that Jared Kushner talking to the Congressional interns which they were all warned, the entire class of Congressional interns was warned don`t leak this and of course it leaked. They thought we colluded but we couldn`t even collude with our local offices. The Kushner`s account and I think the one that we will see is that we were essentially in over our heads and too incompetent to successfully colluded.

GOLDBERG: Right, too incompetent -

JOHNSTON: Right. We are so bad at this, we have no business being in the White House. It is - it`s an astonishing defense but it has a purpose. It is to suggest that this was really innocent. There was - no matter what you find, this was really innocent and that will fly with a segment of the American population.

GOLDBERG: I think, I mean, it`s so - the thing is, you don`t - we`re not talking about high level plotting dead drops than kind of a -

HAYES: No, that`s what so remarkable, that e-mail chain. And so shocking to me about it.

GOLDBERG: Right. I mean, you`re just talking about a bunch of goons kind of offering to trade favors. It just happens to be that one of the favors is swing the election of the United States of America. And so, it`s not - you know, this didn`t take, at least on Trump`s part, as opposed to on the Russians` part, a huge level of kind of sophisticated - you know -

HAYES: Subterfuge.

GOLDBERG: Right, exactly. It was just him accepting -

HAYES: That`s a good point.

GOLDBERG: - accepting the offer of help in exchange for certain kind of political guarantees which he is now doing everything he can to fulfill.

HAYES: Michelle -

JOHNSTON: And Chris, how comfortable the Russian government was. Remember, they said, this was from the Russian government. Can you imagine the Russian government having gone to John McCain saying, we want a supply of information? They were confident, they had somebody here who wanted to hear their message.

HAYES: Yes. That`s a good point. Michelle Goldberg and David Cay Johnston, thanks for being with me tonight. Next, a new federal lawsuit alleging the Trump administration worked with Fox News to spread a conspiracy theory about a murdered DNC staffer and that the President himself may have had a hand in it. The details of that explosive story after this two-minute break.

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HAYES: The President of the United States stands accused in a federal lawsuit of conspiring with Fox News to promote a fringe conspiracy theory about a murdered DNC staffer in order to invalidate the Russia scandal. For months, the conspiracy theorists on the right have been pushing an alternate explanation for the DNC hack during the 2016 election. That it wasn`t Russia who broke in and stole the e-mails and pass it to WikiLeaks instead, it was really Seth Rich, a young DNC operative who was killed last summer. That murder was what D.C. Police say was a likely a botched robbery, but according to this conspiracy theory that has been percolating in the internet, it was a retaliatory hit job who wanted to shut Seth Rich up.

Now, in May, that story was written up, that story at foxnews.com and it got air time for days on the network over the strong objections of the grieving Rich family. And Fox News was eventually forced to retract that very same report which is something they do not very often do. Now, according to this new lawsuit filed by Private Investigator Rod Wheeler, who is a Fox News Contributor and source for the article, the Seth Rich conspiracy theory didn`t come out of nowhere. It was promoted allegedly by a wealthy Trump supporter named Ed Butowsky. He`s an investor for Texas who appears on Fox News and Fox Business Channel and who hired Wheeler to investigate Rich`s murder.

Now, Butowsky isn`t just connected to Fox, he has ties to the White House where he visits back in the April with Wheeler in tow to share their findings with then Press Secretary Sean Spicer. According to the lawsuit, Butowsky claimed the President himself was directly involved, sending a text to Wheeler days before the false and later retracted Fox News report was published saying this, "Not to add any more pressure but the President just read the article. He wants the article out immediately. It`s now all up to you but don`t feel the pressure. Tonight, Wheeler described his reaction to that text in an exclusive interview with my colleague Ari Melber.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED WHEELER, PLAINTIFF ON FOX LAWSUIT: Well, first of all, I`m thinking why would the President have to review a story pertaining to a death-to the murder of a guy in D.C.? Why would they President even be involved in this? But at that point Ari, it was rather obvious to me that they actually lured me into this investigation. They meaning this Fox News reporter and Ed Butowsky to substantiate this Russian narrative thing or to debunk that when in fact they told me that I was really getting involved just to solve a murder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: I`m joined now by Oliveia Nuzzi who`s a Washington Correspondent for New York Magazine and Gabe Sherman who`s a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair and an MSNBC Contributor. Gabe, let me start with you. I want to be just cautious here because anyone can file a lawsuit.

GABRIEL SHERMAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Of course.

HAYES: It does not mean that the claims made in the lawsuit are true. And there are some reasons to be skeptical about some of the credibility of all the figures involved in this. That said, this is a shockingly explosive set of allegations.

SHERMAN: On multiple levels. I mean, this lawsuit is both shocking and fascinating and obviously, we`ll see how it plays out. What I find interesting is it - on one level it`s an autopsy of how a fake news story potentially gets created and how the Trump White House potentially worked in concert with its media arm Fox News to try to push a counter narrative that comes up with any other explanation then that the Trump campaign had ties to the Russian hacking operation that led to the Clinton e-mails.

HAYES: Now, there`s - for all that we can`t verify there`s few things that we can Olivia and here`s one thing I think that`s key to zoom in on. Now, I want to play - this is Spicer on May 16th being asked about the - about the Seth Rich story. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don`t -- I`m not aware of - I generally - I don`t get updates on DNC, former DNC staffers. I`m not aware of that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES: OK. So now, it turns out that that statement was made after he had this meeting in the White House with Butowski and Wheeler about precisely this story. Spicer confirming that to NPR yesterday. Ed has been a longtime supporter of the President and asked to meet to catch up. It was nothing to do with advancing the President`s domestic agenda. They was no agenda, they were just informing me this Fox story. This vaguely similar Olivia to the Don Junior. I`m just taking a meeting with anyone, we don`t have an agenda. You`ll just see what happens.

OLIVIA NUZZI, NEW YORK MAGAZINE WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, that`s precisely what Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued today during the White House briefing. She said well, you know, it`s not unusual for anyone in the press office to take a meeting with a media figure. But I want to be very clear, I interviewed Ed Butowsky twice today and in the afternoon, he got very angry with me and started yelling at me and sort of vaguely threatening me because I characterized the meeting as an interview. He was very clear that it was not an interview. He was not there in his capacity as an immediate figure as someone who appears on Fox News.

He was there to inform Sean Spicer and to inform the White House more broadly that what he felt was compelling information about something that could help them. So for them on argue that you know, this is typical, that the press office always meets with media figures to learn about what they`re working on. That`s not quite the case here. I think, you know, you said it yourself that everyone here is sort of unreliable. There`s a reason to be skeptical of everyone involved in this story. But regardless, it just - no one is really, the White House is not really saying the same exact thing that Butowsky is saying or even what Wheeler is saying.

HAYES: Yes, let me follow up with that because the most explosive part of the complaint and is very smartly done with the lawyers is just the first play - the first page of the plaintiff`s complaint contain a text in which Ed Butowsky tells Wheeler that the President has read it and wants you to go ahead. Butowsky confirms the text was sent, correct? What is his line about that?

NUZZI: Well, Butowsky`s line about that now is that he was sort of said in jest. He said, well, I`m sure that you have text messages like this, that you wouldn`t want to be public. And it`s like, I really don`t. I don`t think many of us have text messages where we`re joking to friends that the President is aware of what we`re up to. He claims he said it in jest because Wheeler wanted a job in the Trump administration so badly, that he just sort of was mocking him for wanting that. It doesn`t really make any sense. He also claimed that he brought Wheeler to the meeting with Sean Spicer so that he could make the case for getting a job in the White House himself but he told me that Wheeler never talk to Spicer about his job because - I`m paraphrasing - that`s not something you do the first time that you meet somebody.

HAYES: There are some people I think who would do that the first time you meet them. There`s also the angle to this about Fox`s complexity on this. And just to give people a sense, I mean, this conspiracy theory is massively hurtful to the Rich family. They have a family member who`s murdered. It`s still unsolved. The police say it does look like a botched robbery. There`s no - the idea that people have in this sort of vulture- like way preyed upon the memory and reputation, this person that he was essentially have (INAUDIBLE) against DNC because it suits their purposes to exculpate Russia. And for that we promote night after night, the people like Sean Hannity, I mean, it was hell for that family and attracted quite a bit of attention when Fox was pushing this story.

SHERMAN: Yes, and both - inside Fox, there were certain pockets of deep consternation that this story was being, that the Rich tragedy was being political football to help Trump and to what length? It`s going to be this kind of sick but to what length would Fox News go to prop up the Trump White House that they would use the death of Seth Rich in that effort. Now, you know, Sean Hannity said that he was not facing pressure to lay off the Rich story but he has not covered it since all of this back lash. And we should point out Fox News retracted the report that this whole conspiracy is based on. So the network is saying we put this out there and yet we can`t stand behind it.

HAYES: Olivia, do you think, I mean, what I just said before is whether there`s one lie, we suspect there may be many lies. If we heard sort of the last of the fact pattern here in terms of what the White House knew about this story.

NUZZI: Certainly, I mean, everything that has happened in this administration since day one, since during campaign, in fact, has suggested that this is not the last that we`ll hear about it. And they would likely be changing their story on it (INAUDIBLE). I mean, it`s anyone`s guess right now, if you know what`s in the lawsuit is, it`s completely accurate but they`re not really getting their story straight right now and it is very early. So we can expect, I`m sure that they`re going to be changing things as they go along, as they get new information.

HAYES: All right, Olivia Nuzzi and Gabe Sherman, thank you both.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

NUZZI: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, how the administration that ran on cyber security got conned by caught a dude with an iPhone. The amazing e-mails between Anthony Scaramucci and who he thought was Reince Priebus after this quick break.

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HAYES: A day after Reince Priebus resigned as White House Chief of Staff, a Twitter prankster pretending to be Priebus e-mailed Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci who at the time was still the White House Communications Director had vowed to get Priebus fired. And so, you can imagine his surprise when the fake Priebus e-mailed him the following. "I promised myself I would leave my hands mud-free. But the way in which that transition has come about has been diabolical and hurtful. I don`t expect a reply." The very real Scaramucci responded sincerely to the fake Priebus, "You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A man would apologize."

The exchange continued with the fake Priebus writing, "I can`t believe you`re asking - you were questioning my ethics. The so-called Mooch who can`t even manage his first week in the White House without leaving upset in his wake. I have nothing to apologize for." Again, the very real Scaramucci fire back at fake Priebus, "Read Shakespeare. Particularly Othello. You are right there. I know what you did. No more replies from me." Not only did this self-scribed prankster expose some very real flaws in the Trump administration cyber security but he posted his handy work to Twitter for all to see. White House officials acknowledged the breach and said they`re looking into what happened. And it probably should because Anthony Scaramucci wasn`t the only White House official doped into believing. He was talking to other White House officials. We`ll tell you who else got played next.

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HAYES: The email prankster who was able to convince Anthony Scaramucci that he was emailing with Reince Priebus, was also able to convince him that he was John Huntsman, the newly named ambassador to Russia. Now, think Huntsman asked in apparent reference to both Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, "Whose head should roll first? Maybe I can help things along somewhat." The real Scaramucci wrote back, "Both of them."

Now, while toying with the Mooch may have been mostly harmless, the prankster was also able to convince Homeland Security Advisory, Tom Bossert, who was in charge of overseeing cyber security, to voluntarily offer up his own personal email address to a person he thought was a President`s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, inviting him to a fancy dinner. Fake Kushner writing, "Tom, we are arranging a bit of a soiree toward the end of August, I promise food of at least of comparable quality to that which we had in Iraq. Should be a great evening."

The real --- wrote back, thanks, Jared. With a promise like that, I can`t refuse. Also, if you ever need it, my personal email is -- redacted."

The prankster, known as @SINON_REBORN, after posting many posting many emails on Twitter, posted this message, "White House FYI, I won`t be pranking you any longer. Point made. I am just a dude with an IPhone. You need the tighten up I.T. policy. Love x.x"

Joining me now, Christina Greer, Political Scientist, Associate Professor at Fordham University.

Well, here`s the thing that I find amazing about this. Just remember that they, the Trump campaign managed to make a central issue before the republic in the last campaign, email security.

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: 33,000 emails. If she can`t protect her email server, how can she protect her country? And now that we know the President still uses his regular phone and you can reach him on his number.

It is and not just one person who is pranked. We have high level people with security clearance who are emailing and talking about, right now in this case, wasn`t incredibly sensitive. We`re talking about soirees, and inside baseball, if you will. But this is a fundamental crisis.

And it shows that not only is this President unqualified and unprepared and unorganized, and disorganized as well, as are the people around him.

And so, if we`re not worried about this, they`re trying to make Russia kind of nothing.

They`re trying to say, this isn`t the same as Hillary bleaching her server. Yeah, because we have elections next year, and more elections, god willing, in 2020.

HAYES: There`s two things. This is a prankster, right?

But, the other thing is, what if they were batting around policy. If you email someone and the President says it is a go on North Korea. You want to make sure of who you`re talking to.

GREER: Well, with this President who is so erratic and who does not read, right? We know if someone says, oh yeah, he`s all in.

HAYES: On X policy.

GREER: Okay. Because, we know that he doesn`t follow any play book. He goes by whatever the shiniest toy is in front of his face or the last story that he heard.

And so, I think that`s what is really dangerous. Because we`re not just talking about domestic policy, which he is all over the place, and not really successful in certain ways.

But International policy. Our enemies are watching all of this. And they`re seeing that when the leader of a free nation does not have control of his own camp, or his own self- that is a time where we as citizens are incredibly weak in the eyes of others.

HAYES: This was the thing I thought of when I read that was like, wow, if you just jammed a crowbar on some major issue on some major issue of international affairs.

The other thing I keep thinking about, I obsess over this, there is always something like prurient and fun about reading someone else`s email. You get a kick out of it. And that powered the campaign. We were constantly reading emails leaked by Weekileaks that were criminally obtained by a foreign adversary.

The question I have is we`ve only seen one Trump email and it was comically watching what they`re willing to put in an email here, like who knows what`s an email? Who knows what they`ve put in email?

GREER: Who knows because they are clearly not -- they don`t understand.

HAYES: They`re not careful.

GREER: They don`t understand the job. And this has always been my concern when you not just the president, but the people that he`s surrounded himself with, so many of them fundamentally do not understand American government. They don`t understand separation of powers. They don`t understand checks and balances.

HAYES: Haven`t been in it, haven`t been around it.

GREER: And they`ve never been public servants, either, so there`s also lack of respect for it.

And so when we are seeing these titillating emails, it`s like this is why he`s concerned about Mueller. This is why he fired Comey, because we don`t know what he`s been sort of loose lips sink ships, and we know that this particular president has zero discipline when it comes to speaking. So we can only imagine that he and his ilk have a pretty low levels of discipline when it comes to writing things down as well.

HAYES: I`ve encountered people in my professional life who basically are like never put anything in an email. Like, you`ll email them they`ll pick up the phone and call ou.

GREER: Right here.

HAYES: Right.

And you`re like, OK, I see you. I see you. You`re being very careful here.

GREER: If we ever need to discuss something, I will tell you let`s get on the phone.

HAYES: That does not seem to be the MO of these folks, which really makes you wonder what it`s there.

Christina Greer, it`s great to see you. Thank you.

GREER: It`s great to see you too.

HAYES: Still ahead, congress voted overwhelming to pass a bill on Russian sanctions, so why has the president not yet signed it? The changing stories ahead in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing One tonight, The White House continues to claim the president was joking when he encouraged and condoned police brutality on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you see them thrown in rough. I said please don`t be too nice, like when you guys put somebody on the car and you`re protecting their head, you know, the way you put the hand, like, don`t hit their hand and they have just killed somebody, don`t hit their head. I said you can take hand away, okay?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Police chiefs across the country condemned those remarks. And today, we learned the acting DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg, didn`t think it was so funny. Writing in a letter to his own workforce, quote, the president condoned police misconduct regarding the treatment of individuals placed under arrest by law enforcement. I write because we have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong.

Even in light of that, the White House once again downplayed the president`s comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: Was he making a joke about police brutality?

SANDERS: Not at all. I think you guys are jumping and trying to make something out of nothing. He was simply making a comment, making a joke, and it was nothing more than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: This is not the first time Team Trump has tried to pass off disturbing or offensive comments as, quote, a joke. The history of Trumps knee slappers is Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The head of the DEA wrote immediately after the president made those remarks to officers in the DEA telling them to disregard them and saying he had an obligation to speak up when something wrong happens.

SANDERS: It wasn`t a directive. It was a joke. There`s a very big difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The White House still claiming the president`s comments condoning police brutality were a joke, which we`ve come to learn is a great tactic when would you rather not just apologize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the second amendment people, maybe there is. I don`t know.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN: I heard about this second amendment quote. It sounds like a joke gone bad.

TRUMP: His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn`t allowed to have anything to say? You tell me. But plenty of people have written that.

WILBUR ROSS: I thought he was joking about it. I don`t think that he was really trying to insult anyone.

TRUMP: Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 emails.

When I`m being sarcastic with something...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you being sarcastic?

TRUMP: Of course I`m being sarcastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say affirmatively that whenever the president says something, we can trust it to be real.

SEAN SPICER, FRM. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If he`s not joking, of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Putin says very nice things about me. I think that`s very nice. It has no effect on me other than I think it is very nice.

If we get along with Russia, that`s very good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Better relations with Russia was a consistent theme of Donald Trump`s presidential campaign, helped along by flattery from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But now President Trump has found his efforts to smooth over relations with Russia constrained by several factors, most notably in the investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller and several congressional committees into Russian interference in the election, and the possibility of Trump campaign collusion with those efforts.

Last week, congress overwhelmingly voted to sanction Russia for that election interference. A sanctions bill passing the House by 419-3, and the Senate by 98-2. In response, Putin ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 employees.

President Trump hasn`t made a peep about Putin`s retaliation, and here`s the thing he has not yet signed the sanctions bill. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the bill, quote, had not been received, even though Congress.gov noted the bill went to the president`s desk last Friday.

Today, Sanders did acknowledge they have the bill, but the president still hasn`t committed to a signing date. Reporters in today`s White House briefing tried to find out why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: What`s the delay here? You guy have had this since Friday. What`s holding him back?

SANDERS: It`s always -- there`s nothing holding him back. There`s a review process, a legal process. They`re going through that. And he`ll sign the bill and we`ll let you guys know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Why the White House is dragging its feet on Russia next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Speaking in Georgia earlier today, Vice President Pence said Donald Trump would sign a Russians sanctions bill quote very soon. But like others in the administration, Mike Pence didn`t get any more specific than that even though the president has had the bill in hand since Friday.

Joining me now, Julia Ioffe, staff writer at The Atlantic whose most recent piece is titled "Vladimir Putin to America: You`ve Let Me Down;" and Evan McMullin, former 2016 independent presidential candidate and former CIA officer.

Julia, let me start with you. There`s a fascinating dynamic happening here, and it`s a sort of complicated terrain. But you`ve got two things, right. You`ve got the fact that it really looks like Russia took these very brazen measures to criminally interfere in the American election to get Donald Trump elected, and then you`ve got the question of what U.S.-Russia relations should be like and those overlap, but they can also be distinct. And you`ve got the politics that rippled out from that first thing now boxing the president into calls for escalation with Russia because of what they did to get him elected in the first place.

Is that basically the dynamic?

JULIA IOFFE, THE ATLANTIC: Basically.

And you have the Russians playing this interesting game. They basically retaliated 20 times harder than what the Obama administration did because this isn`t just retaliation for these sanctions that haven`t yet been signed, that aren`t that bad, and then it`s also retaliation for what the Obama administration did as they were leaving the White House. They kicked out 35 diplomatic Russian staff who were allegedly intelligence and blocked access to two compounds also allegedly used mostly for intelligence gathering.

And Vladimir Putin kicks out 20 times that many people, diplomatic staff out of Russia. But he gives the Americans a month to implement this and the bill hasn`t yet been signed by the president. So is this -- you know, the question is, is this a signal to President Trump saying, you know, this is what would happen.

On the other hand, when official Russians, you know, Putin`s spokesman has been saying, look, we understand how this works in the U.S. It`s a veto proof majority. Even if the president doesn`t sign it, it`s going to become law and we have to put our foot down.

Putin said in an interview on Sunday night, he said, you can`t just keep using your power all over the world. You have to stop disrespecting us. We`re putting our foot down.

HAYES: So, Evan, it`s been interesting to me to note, the fact that the president -- there`s two things happening, right, the president -- they`ve just been strange about the whole sanctions bill from the beginning. They were noncommital about whether they were going to sign it. They`ve now -- they said they haven`t had it, but they had the bill. Now they won`t say when they`re going to sign it. So, there`s just been weirdness about it.

There`s also the fact the president hasn`t responded in any public way to Putin`s call to kick out these 755 personnel. And it`s not like this is an individual who just ignores perceived threats or insults. What do you make of the silence there?

EVAN MCMULLIN, FRM. CIA OPERATIVE: well, he`s between a rock and a hard place, the president on the sanctions bill. On one hand if he signs it, he`s sort of acknowledging that Russia did meddle in our election on his behalf, something that he`s tried to obfuscate and misdirect in the minds of the American people since it happened. So if he signs it, he`s acknowledging that it happened. That puts him in a difficult place.

If he doesn`t sign it, then it`s sort of solidifies as if we need any more of that. The reality that Donald Trump has an unhealthy relationship or posture vis-a-vis Moscow.

So, he`s in a really tough place.

I think he`ll probably go ahead and sign it. One way or another, this will become law, I believe. I think there was some Republican leadership resistance in the house, not among the rank and file members, but among the leaders, Republican leaders to try to weaken the bill. I think we`re past that.

So this will become law, I`m optimistic. The question then will be how it`s implemented. How does the Trump administration implement the sanctions, which I do think are significant and we`re going to have to watch and then to also see how the Republicans hold him to account on that.

HAYES: Also, I want to follow up on that, because part of the dynamic I`m seeing here is the president is in denial about what happened. He is being investigated, his campaign is being investigated into possibly colluding with what happened. There`s an email in which his campaign top people met with Russians who said the government wants to help you and give you dirt.

And all of that means there`s this kind of pall that`s cast over everything.

At the same time, it seems various parts of the Republican Party and the government are trying to box the president in. So you have Mike Pence saying this today in Georgia, that Georgia should join NATO. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Along with all of our NATO allies, the United States is contributing to the substantial package for Georgia, to strengthen Georgia`s resilience and to bring Georgia ever closer to your goal of membership in NATO.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: And Evan, I worry that we`re going to get the worst of both worlds, denial from the White House, attempts to sabotage the investigation, and then a kind of compensatory move by kind of Russia hawks to be as aggressive and forward-leaning as possible, locking the two countries into this sort of cycle of recrimination back and forth.

MCMULLIN: Well, that`s certainly possible.

I mean, look, I think Vice President Pence has been brought on since the beginning to be the normalizer-in-chief, and that`s what he`s doing now in Georgia. He`s saying the right things, but he`s been trying to say the right things since he joined the team, the Trump team.

So, I don`t know that there`s a lot we can take at face value from his comments other than that he`s trying to provide some normalcy to a very abnormal administration.

HAYES: Julia, do you feel that the reverberations, that and Russian officials understand the way in which what happened during the election is reverberating and structuring everything about their relationship? You see people sometimes say -- people are interested in, quote, avoiding a new Cold War, which I think is a good idea. You know that you kind of have to put that behind us, or put it aside. Rex Tillerson saying, well, we didn`t talk about that.

But it does seem to me that that`s just a nonstarter. Everything has to run through that at a certain level because there has to be some accountability.

IOFFE: I think Russia is in deep denial. They have not acknowledged on an official level that they`ve done this and they kind of tend to drink their own Kool-Aid, so the further this goes the more they`re going to be in denial about what they`ve done, and therefore they`re going to be in denial and they`re going to be insulted by any countermeasures.

The other thing I want to say is it`s not necessarily weird for a White House to be against sanctions imposed by congress. The Obama administration tried to block, for example, the Magnitsky Act which Americans have become familiar with because of the Donald Trump Jr. emails. But they didn`t want congress getting in the way of them trying to work out a relationship with Moscow, of them working out a foreign policy.

It`s this awkward dance between congress and the executive branch who makes foreign policy. It`s not exactly weird and unusual for this White House.

There are many other things that are weird and unusual but this may not be it.

And also I don`t think Georgia -- Georgia is never, is not going to join NATO. They have a territorial dispute on their border, inside their borders created by Russia in order to not allow them to join NATO. So, this is just -- it`s just talk that then Donald Trump can pull the rug out from under.

MCMULLIN: If I could just say, of course the executive branch and the legislative branch, they have tensions between them whenever new sanctions are on the table of obviously any president, executive branch wants the legislative branch to interfere as little as possible. This is not a normal situation. This is a president who obviously has an unhealthy relationship with Russia. That`s the real motivation for his resistance and attempt to weaken and stop these sanctions.

HAYES: Julia Ioffe...

IOFFE: Sure, but this is it`s -- it isn`t the only time the White House -- a White House has tried to interfere with congress...

MCMULLIN: No, but this is not like those situations.

IOFFE: Agreed. Agreed.

HAYES: Julia Ioffe and Evan McMullin, thanks for joining me.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now with Joy Reid in for Rachel.

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