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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 8/8/17 "Fire & Fury"

Guests: Ed Markey, Lawrence Wilkerson, Eric Swalwell

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 8, 2017 Guest: STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: That is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. ALL IN with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States.

HAYES: An unprecedented threat from the President.

TRUMP: They`ll be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

HAYES: Tonight President Trump`s rhetorical escalation, following reports that North Korea now has its own nuclear warheads and how a White House rife with infighting will respond to a nuclear threat. Then -

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Rosenstein should be ashamed of himself.

HAYES: Congressman Eric Swalwell on the ongoing efforts to upend the Muller investigation. Dan Rather on the latest leak from a government trying to protect a country form its president. And why this man may be on the verge of winning a Senate seat in Trump`s America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This country was not founded on Mohammed.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Today, our President speaking from the golf course he owns in New Jersey, appeared to threaten nuclear war with the country of North Korea.


TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.


HAYES: Taken literally, that would be an extraordinary red line to draw, promising nuclear retaliation for mere threats against the U.S. North Korea is already ignoring the President`s warning announcing it`s considering a plan to strike the American territory of Guam. The President`s remarks today came after a news broke that U.S. intelligence now believes North Korea has successfully produced a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile, a key milestone on the path to becoming a full pledged nuclear power. According to the Washington Post, which broke - first broke the story, many analysts believed it would be years before North Korea could construct that particular type warhead, a goal they now appear at least according to intelligence to have reached ahead of schedule. North Korea has conducted a dozen missile tests so far this year.

Last month, launching two the intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, that could potentially have been capable of reaching the U.S. In response, United States passed a new package of sanctions on North Korea which the President signed last week. It`s successfully pushed another round of international sanctions through the U.N. Security Council earning votes even from Russia and China. The North Korean government blasted those efforts in a statement, "The U.S. is acting absurd by resorting to the anachronistic sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK - the Democratic Republic of Korea, the country`s official name - instead of appreciating the strategic status of DPRK and paying proper attention to its repeated warnings. The unwise conduct of the U.S. will only speed up its own extinction. I`m joined now by Senator Ed Markey, Democrat from Massachusetts, Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, your reaction to the President`s statement earlier today?

SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: The President has to tone it down. We`re dealing with a very dangerous situation. The North Koreans already have nuclear weapons, we have nuclear weapons. When he is talking about unleashing a fury, unleashing a power that has never been seen before, well, that brings us back to August of 1945. When nuclear weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and if he intends on exceeding that level of power, then I`m afraid that we could see a confrontation here that slips quickly out of control as the President continues to talk about a military option which would never be successful. Instead of urgent diplomacy, which he`s been avoiding for six months, and which absolutely has to be engaged in right now and immediately in order to de-escalate this confrontation.

HAYES: What do you say to this who say that the six-party talks in the latter years of the Bush administration, didn`t significantly arrest or at least stop the development of these weapons, that the Obama administration posture strategic patience didn`t stop it either? So, this kind of escalation, or at least rhetorically might have some effect where others have failed?

MARKEY: Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and I have introduced bipartisan legislation which would tighten the sanctions on North Korea to an extent that a do not do business sign would be on their country`s back. We need to do that. Pass even tougher sanctions and go to the table at the same time saying to China, and Russia that if you do business with North Korea, if you do help their economy at all, then we`re going to sanction you as well because this is an existential threat to the United States and we want to find a diplomatic resolution of it and not a military resolution of it and we need to tighten the economic sanctions in order to get North Korea to respond in a way that it has not done so yet.

HAYES: Is it your understanding that the President`s message today was sort of vetted and developed as an intentional signal or do you interpret it as essentially improvised?

MARKEY: I hope that there is a plan behind it but you can never tell with a man who tweets incessantly and thoughtlessly. But nonetheless, the response from North Korea is not one which seems to indicate that they`re afraid. And that I think what our greatest concern should be because that is what was happening during Cuban missile crisis in 1962. It was just slipping slowly but surely out of control until both sides he began to talk. That is how that issue got resolved. Talking is not weakness, talking is strength. And the President must come to realize that because a military option is not something that can be used because would it lead to hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths.

HAYES: A lot of people are trying to assess where we are right now. If ten is actual nuclear war and the Cuban missile crisis was say nine, which was probably about as close as the world came off some other close calls, where do you think we are right now?

MARKEY: I think we`re inside of the modern day Cuban missile crisis. I think -

HAYES: You think that right now?

MARKEY: We have a country with nuclear weapons that can be aimed at our 29,000 troops in the demilitarized zone. It can be aimed at 25 million South Koreans with a 30-mile radius of the demilitarized zone, absolutely. If this is not handled properly and it escalates out of control, we can cross a trip wire that we can`t even see right now and begin an engagement that turns military and then escalates out of control very quickly.

HAYES: All right, Senator Ed Markey, thanks for your time.

MARKEY: Thank you. You`re welcome.

HAYES: Joining me now is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to then Secretary of State Colin Powell. And of course, when you served in that capacity, North Korea was an issue then. It was labeled as part of axis of evil quite famously by George W. Bush. Do you agree with the Senator in how he compared this to a modern Cuban missile crisis?

LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: I think we need to calm this down a little bit Chris. This is not an existential crisis. It`s not something that we can`t handle, that the North Koreans in fact, and the South Koreans, our allies on the Peninsula, can`t handle. But we do need to get away from this kind of grandiose rhetoric that Donald Trump used today. This is like Donald Trump looking in the mirror in the morning and seeing Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-un looking to the mirror and seeing Donald Trump. And the problem there is one of them is the dictator of a basket case country in Northeast Asia and the other is the President of the most powerful country in the world. In other words, this is not the way to conduct U.S. Foreign Security Policy.

HAYES: You know, you said that at Noah Rothman (INAUDIBLE) at the conservative commentary magazine said no joke, I read Trump`s statement on North Korea and thought it was a North Korean statement on Trump.


HAYES: The rhetoric seems to be (INAUDIBLE) back. Let`s talk about the North Korean regime. You mentioned something interesting there that sort of putting some onus on them or at least projecting their actions. There is a caricature of the regime as essentially run by a madman and fundamentally irrational. Do you think that`s an accurate characterization?

WILKERSON: Absolutely not. It hasn`t been true for any of the Kim Dynasty, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un. They`re very rational people. Their singular objective in this world is to maintain themselves in power. To keep drinking their Hennesseys, they`re (INAUDIBLE) and continue to be the only power that matters in North Korea. That is a reality. And that`s why it`s not existential because they know if they were to attack the south in any blatant way, or anyone else of our allies in the region, they would disappear from the earth. It would be fire and fury indeed.

No American President could escape that. We had this same crisis in 1994. I was on the Peninsula in 1994. I was there with the Commander in Korea. I was there with Bill Perry when he was over there. Clinton`s middle Secretary of Defense. We negotiated and it led to the agreed framework and we froze their most dangerous nuclear program at the time, the reprocessing plant at Yongbyon. That`s what we need to do again. We need to talk and we need to be able as Bill Perry has appointed out, and willing to offer something. Like the exercises in August. We can offer that we would cancel those exercises or postpone them in exchange for a cancellation of ballistic missile testing or nuclear testing or both. This is the way we need to deal with this. Both sides need to calm down and we need to talk.

HAYES: You know, it`s interesting you say that about negotiations, success in the negotiation because I feel the images projected often is that everything has failed, every approach, that you can`t get anywhere negotiating with North Korea. It sounds like you`re saying you don`t believe that`s true.

WILKERSON: I don`t believe it at all and my whole life has been since 1953 when I was about 9 years old, has been proof of that because we haven`t had a war on the Peninsula. We had a peace treaty in `53 and - not a peace treaty but we had a cease fire in `53 and an armistice and we had the DMZ ever since. And now we have a situation once again that looks like it might - could bring war back. The way we`ve solved that in the past is by talking. People say we can`t talk with a criminal regime. Those are the regimes you need to talk to. John Kennedy said it best. You should never negotiate out of fear but you should never fear to negotiate. Tillerson has said that more or less, as has Mattis. We need to get to it and we need to curb this President who seems to think that he`s negotiating the Taj Mahal or some other casino with Steve Wynn.

HAYES: There`s infrastructure on the President of the United States, a chain of command of massive national security apparatus that we think of this kind of constraining or binding the power of the President of the United States and yet at the same time, he does have the unilateral power to fire a nuclear weapon to initiate a strike. How confident are you in the basic supporting structure around the President to navigate this crisis?

WILKERSON: Not until about the last three weeks, I was fairly confident. I was confident that the institutional fabric we developed since 1947 would, in fact, encumber this President to the point where he couldn`t do anything insane. I`m no longer that comfortable. I think we`re in trouble. I think we`re in big trouble and I think the kind of rhetoric we`ve seen out of Donald Trump in the last few weeks indicates that trouble. I`m really worried.

HAYES: You`ve witnessed, worked for different administrations, watched different presidents and diplomats operate. How out of the - how anomalous were - was the tenure of the President`s comments today?

WILKERSON: Incredibly out of character for the greatest power in the world. And let`s look at something else, Chris. Right now our tacit ally, India, and China, the second greatest power in the world right now, are on the border ready to go to war, 100 meters apart. Not only that, China has built a corridor through Kashmir making Kashmir as if it`s more amenable to Pakistan`s sovereignty if you will than India`s. We have a real problem there. In 2002 Colin Powell had to go deal with Musharraf in Islamabad and the Indian President in Delhi and have to talk to in order to avert a nuclear exchange between those two powers. We`re not even looking at that right now. We`re letting so much go by the way because we`re concentrating on Trump`s rhetoric.

HAYES: All right. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, it`s a great pleasure. Thank you.

WILKERSON: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: I`m joined now by Evelyn Farkas, MSNBC National Security Analyst, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. How typically would a process be run inside a White House to determine who should make what kind of statement in this context?

EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right, Chris, well, first, I just want to associate myself with everything the Colonel said because he made very excellent comments there. I mean, normally you have an interagency process. It sounds like they have he had one actually and they do have a North Korea strategy, although it the hasn`t been articulated publicly. And then you get the sense that the President rhetorically is probably not doing what they scripted for this strategy because what he is doing runs counter to a sober strategy that puts pressure first. We need to really look at very clearly at what the North Korean regime wants. As some of the other guests said before, Kim Jong-un, he wants to make sure, number one, that he consolidates power internally. He`s done it since he took power in 2011 when his father died.

Second thing was to make sure nobody tries regime change. Remember, North Korea is one of the three original members of the axis of evil. We`ve dealt with Iraq and we`re still dealing Iran and North Korea and he hasn`t forgotten that. So, he`s trying to make sure that we don`t come in there and change his regime. There`s a third thing that is - doesn`t get a lot of attention but he`s also been conducting a little bit of economic reform. Sort of a-la-China in the 1970s. Not a full bore privatization, but a little bit privatization, a little bit of market economics there. And I think it`s important to note all of that because this regime is not interested in attacking the United States unless it looks like the United States is going to attack it. And I think they`ve done that analysis inside the government, inside the NSC process that you mentioned Chris. It`s just that the President now is speaking out in a way that doesn`t seem to bolster a soberly minded approach.

And if I could just really quickly give what I think the approach should be, it should be first of all deterrence, military deterrence, conventional, nuclear, everything we`re doing across the border with our allies in the region. Second of all is got to be putting pressure. Pressure through the sanctions first and foremost and we`ve got to really enforce them. And by the way, we have had great experience in the - in the Bush administration. We put on a really good set of sanctions. After the agreed framework fell apart, which was kind of a mistake on our part I believe because we probably should have found a way to keep North Korea in the agreed framework.

Anyway, we used the sanctions, it worked. The last part is, of course, diplomacy. That`s where you say, OK, we put the pressure on and we`re deterring you but here`s why we`re doing it, because we don`t want you to attack us, we want you to freeze your program. We want you to stop being a threat to international peace and security. And then finally, on the inducement side, that`s where I think we can work China to say, hey, you want to do some economic reform internally? We`ll help you if you do all these other things.

HAYES: We`ve seen parts of the American domestic political structure begin to discount the words of the President, even the Pentagon essentially more or less ignoring the tweets about transgender service members. Do you think there`s a similar effect internationally where world leaders have learned to discount what the President says?

FARKAS: Probably because I think instinctively we`re all saying, what is this? He sounds like a North Korean leader. I said that earlier today. He sounds like Kim Jong-un or Kim Jong-il you know, talking about - those guys were always talking see a fire and going to get the imperialist and they (INAUDIBLE). And essentially I feel like our President forgets. I mean, I don`t even know if he knows, he realizes we`re the number one political economic military power. When you`re the number one guy on the block, you don`t talk like that. The North Koreans talk like that because they`re the little guy. So I think that the international committee is looking at the President scratching their heads and saying, OK, let`s forget about what he says. Let`s see what he does.

HAYES: Yes. It thinks in some ways there`s some hope to that. Evelyn Farkas, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

FARKAS: Yes. Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Next, the growing efforts coming out of Trump world to derail the Mueller investigation. This time the target is the Deputy Attorney General. Congressman Eric Swalwell joins me to talk about it in two minutes.



TRUMP: I can say that the people that have been hired were all Hillary Clinton supporters. Some of them work for Hillary Clinton. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous if you want to know the truth.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: His first four attorneys are all Democrats. One of them worked for the Clinton Foundation. Apparently, he couldn`t find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The very appointment of a Special Counsel was manipulated by former Director Comey who was specifically trying to get a Special Counsel appointed.


HAYES: From the day he was appointed, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been attacked over and over by the President and his allies. Breitbart previously run by the President`s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon claimed that Mueller was too close to fired FBI Chief James Comey. The AP reported the President`s lawyers were looking for conflicts of interest among Mueller`s staff. And Donald Trump himself tweeted that "you are witnessing a single greatest witch hunt in American political history led by some very bad and conflicted people." But tonight, the ire of Trump world is returning to another target.

That`s Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who hired Mueller and who currently has the power to fire Mueller. In a rare public appearance this week, Rosenstein defended Mueller`s investigation saying the Special Counsel can investigate any crime he uncovers and that the Department of Justice doesn`t do "fishing expeditions." Last night, Sean Hannity on Fox went after Rosenstein using some of the same arguments used against Mueller.


HANNITY: The Russia investigation, which is being overseen by the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is beyond corrupt, beyond political, and has now turned into an open ended fishing expedition. And just like Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein has glaring inexcusable conflicts of interest that we can no longer ignore.


HAYES: Joining me now, one of the Democrats leading the Russia investigation in Congress, Representative Eric Swalwell of California. Congressman, are you confident that Rod Rosenstein`s job is safe?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: I hope so. It better be. Good evening Chris. It`s just so maddening to see individuals like Sean Hannity and the President trying to undermine people like Bob Mueller and Mr. Rosenstein. I mean, you have to stoop pretty low to go after Bob Mueller and someone who`s appointed by a Republican kept on by a Democratic President because of his independence. It really is just chipping away at the faith that the people have in our justice system.

HAYES: Are you taking in the - in the House of Representatives to protect the Special Counsel from possible termination by the President? They`re doing that in the Senate, two different bipartisan bills. Is there any activity like that in the House?

SWALWELL: We`re in the House Judiciary Committee, believe it or not, Chris, we tried a couple weeks ago. Pramila Jayapal from Washington wanted to get some oversight on the investigation and her effort was hijacked by the Republicans and they took her legislation to just have more oversight and put more guardrails in place. And what was reported out of the Committee was that the Special Counsel should be set up to investigate Hillary Clinton and the e-mail incident. I mean, it`s just remarkable, what they take away as being important. And so, no, we have not -

HAYES: So there`s no movements? There`s no one - no one over there - I mean, you have Tom Tillis, who`s a Republican from North Carolina, not normally associated I think with a kind of any sort of never Trump fashion in United States politics. He`s on board for this. I think Lindsey Graham as well. You`re not seeing anything like that in the House?

SWALWELL: We`re still waiting you know, for someone with the white hat to come riding in on our side to save us. But actually Chris, I tell constituents at home, we have to save ourselves because we can`t count on patriots right now across the aisle in the House to step up. They just keep looking the other way. And so, we must continue to make sure that the American people understand that we were attacked, that we were just - we were just as vulnerable going into the next election and if anything comes out of this, the criminal probe aside Chris, we must make sure the next election is secure. And that`s why I wrote the independent commission legislation to take this out of Congress and put bipartisan independent appointed experts on the case.

HAYES: The USA Today reporting late today that the President has sent private messages to the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He appreciates what Mueller is doing. It`s what Trump`s chief counsel John Dowd told USA Today in an interview Tuesday. He asked me to share that with him and that`s what I`ve done. Do you think that`s appropriate?

SWALWELL: It`s so odd. It`s kind of the same check-in calls that he would make with Comey and asking Comey to make the Russia case go away, to shoot down New York Times stories, to make the case against Flynn go away. He should just cooperate with the investigation and get to the business of putting to work the people who he promised jobs are coming their way and that is what`s so frustrating. The cost of this has been an economic agenda that is not seen in anyone`s paycheck grow.

HAYES: So I want to ask you about some bizarre high jinx in your own Committee, the House Intelligence Committee where one of the Congressional Investigations is headquartered. Devin Nunez, who`s the Chair, had to essentially recuse himself more or less. There is, of course, this infamous dossier prepared by a former British Intelligence officer named Steele, the Steele dossier and this is a bizarre story. The GOP sent Committee staffers to look for Steele in England. Hunt for Trump dossier author enflames Russia probe and it appears like the - essentially we`re going perhaps to discredit the dossier, and they did it without checking with anyone on your Committee? Do I have that correct?

SWALWELL: I heard the ranking member Schiff addressed this over the weekend. And to his knowledge, the chair person overseeing the Russia investigation Mike Conaway said that he didn`t even know about it. And so, if that`s true, that would be inappropriate. You know, when I was a prosecutor Chris, you were always worried that witnesses would be contacted in an inappropriate way. And some sort of chilling effect would come over to them and prevent them from coming forward. We want to hear from Christopher Steele. He is certainly a relevant witness in what happened and I hope that my Republican colleagues would agree that we should do everything to make him feel comfortable to come forward and shouldn`t do anything that would deter him.

HAYES: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for your time.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

HAYES: Ahead, Dan Rather joins me to talk about a White House plague with leaks including the one today that earned a re-tweets from the President himself. That story next.


HAYES: Amidst of a flurry of North Korean news this morning, President Trump re-tweeted this. U.S. spy satellites detect North Korea moving anti- ship cruise missiles to patrol boat. One small problem, that scoop from was based on information coming from unnamed U.S. officials with knowledge of the latest intelligence in the region. In other words, the story was based on a leak and it just so happens that about 50 minutes later on Fox and Friends, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a member of his administration Nikki Haley was asked about that exact same report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can you tell us about that?

NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I can`t - I can`t talk about anything that classified and if that`s in the newspaper, that`s a shame. I have no reason to comment on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That shouldn`t be on the newspaper, is that another leak I guess?

HALEY: You know, it`s one of these things. I don`t know what`s going on but I will tell you, it`s incredibly dangerous when things get out into the press like that. You`re not only just getting a scoop on something, you`re playing with people`s lives and this has got to stop. All you`re doing is putting Americans in danger.


HAYES: Putting Americans in danger. Now it`s unclear if the President knew he was posting a story based on a leak to his 20 million Twitter followers. But whatever the case, that story was just one of many leaking out of the government right now. Most of which definitely do not carry a Presidential tweet of approval. Like for instance, a major report from 13 federal agencies saying that climate change is real. Its effects are already being felt and it`s caused primarily by carbon emissions. The good leaks and the bad leaks and Dan Rather, next.

HAYES: The Trump administration of late has become obsessed with leaks, but it appears that sometimes the leaker is motivated by concern that vital information will otherwise never never see the light of day. Case in point, this New York Times headline, "scientists fear Trump will dismiss blunt climate report." And the paper published a draft of a report from 13 federal agencies which reads in part, quote, many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse, heat trapping gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climb change.

The congressionally mandated report still has to be approved by the heads of 13 federal agencies, like, for instance, climb changer denier Scott Pruitt who is the EPA administrator, which is presumably why someone brought the draft report to the attention of the New York Times.

Joining me now, Dan Rather, former anchor of the CBS Evening News, host of Access TV`s The Big Interview.

This strikes me as a kind of classic leak in terms of people in the civil service, or in a level of the government, leaking something because they want it made public before it can be killed.

How common is that?

DAN RATHER, HOST, THE BIG INTERVIEW: Well, fairly common, not nearly common enough for journalists. But more and more for the public.

Look, news so often is what the public needs to know that someone, particularly someone in power, doesn`t want them to know. Everything else is pretty much advertising and propaganda. And it is true that on some rare occasions, very rare occasions, a matter of national security involved, but most of the time leaks and whistle blowers, sources who don`t want to be identified, feel so strongly about something, they say listen, the public has to know this. And this is a good case in point with the climate change.

Obviously, President Trump and those in his administration, didn`t want this information out. But somebody, somewhere said you know what the public really needs to know this. And they did a public service by letting somebody in journalism, in this case, The New York Times, know it. But that`s often the way it works.

HAYES: I should be clear about this -- this draft report, it has not yet been quashed by anyone, just so the folks are clear about where it is in the process, it is being reviewed by the agencies. I actually spoke to a government scientist who is familiar with the report who said there had been no political interference yet.

Here`s the next question. What do you say to people who say, the leaking, particularly on the national security side, from anonymous leakers, is agenda driven and can give people a very partial vision of what the actual truth is.

RATHER: Well, I think it is something to be seriously considered. In some cases, that may be true. But the option of shutting down all leaks and all whistle blowers, as opposed to saying, you have to be skeptical about the information, make your own decision about it, that`s for the journalists and the news consumers as a whole.

But in our system of government it is absolutely essential, it`s imperative, that you have an informed citizenry.

Now every president, some more than others, but every president, wants to control the flow of information, because they want to accentuate the positive for themselves.

HAYES: Do you feel this administration is leaking more than others?

RATHER: I do. I can`t remember an administration where you had this many leaks, this early in a presidency. With two-term presidents, and President Nixon who didn`t quite finish his two terms, when you got to the worst of the Watergate period there would began to be leaks.

But I don`t think anywhere in our history, certainly not in the modern presidency, has this early in a presidency administration been this many leaks.

Now, one reading of that, it would be my own reading, my own opinion, is that one reason you`ve had so many leaks is the White House itself has been in chaos, one could say, dysfunctional, if you will. So that`s one reason. The second is, I think that many people who are inside the administration are appalled by what they see going on on the inside and saying, for the good of the country, the public has to know this.

HAYES: You know, the lies of the Trump administration that are essentially kind of enemies of the administration in the government itself, that`s their line. Another way of understanding is there are a lot of people in the civil service, the folks working on this report for instance, whoever leaked this, opposed the administration.

Is there something about -- is there a culture clash happening between the folks working the mid levels of the governance and the people at the top?

RATHER: Absolutely. I think it is a factor in seeing so many leaks out. Look, by any reasonable analysis, the Trump administration and many people like this, they have taken the Executive Branch of the government and yanked it pretty far to the right.

If any Democratic administration had yanked their administration as far to the left, has this one has to the right, they would have been an extreme reaction.

HAYES: So you think there`s something similar. You think that these folks function as a kind of keel, to say they keep from the administration yanking in either direction.

RATHER: Yes. It is part of what we used to call a (inaudible), part of the system of checks and balances. And that people in the administration, many of them left over from the previous administration, and many have been through several administrations, say to themselves, I`ve been at this a long time. I know a few things, and I know that some of the what they`re trying to do at the presidential level are not in the national best interests. That leads to leaks and whistle blowing.

HAYES: Jeff Sessions made an announcement that they have tripled the number of leak investigations. There is some thought of reviewing Department of Justice policy, whether they will subpoena reporters.

Do you think that`s a good idea?

HAYES: No, and I will say that just as a journalist.

It is not a good idea for the country as a whole, it`s not a good idea for news consumers.

There is no desire to pick on Attorney General Sessions, but let`s face it, he is carrying out what he thinks are the desires of his president.

HAYES: As explicitly stated by said president.

RATHER: Yeah, and while he said, the president is important, but in some cases, these leaks endanger lives. There is no leak that I know of thus far in the early stages of the Trump administration that has endangered lives.

What it has endangered is President Trump`s reputation. But that`s a whole different thing. When he talks about subpoenaing press people to get to the root of the leaks, we do have a First Amendment that doesn`t mean that reporters are absolutely excluded from the process of justice, but that`s a very dangerous thing in a society such as ours. And I think people who say to themselves, that`s just Dan Rather talking on behalf of reporters should think about the country as a whole.

HAYES: Dan Rather, thanks.

RATHER: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, is Roy Moore, the Ten Commandments crusader about to go the United States Senate? The incredible story of a very special election in Trump`s America ahead.

And how to keep the President`s attention in tonight`s Thing 1, Thing 2, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing one tonight, nicknames inside the White House. We learned of one for the president from a Washington Post report on advisers struggling to keep his attention when briefing him on the war in Afghanistan.

I call the president the two-minute man, said one Trump confidante, the president has patience for a half page.

This is not the first time we`ve heard about the attention span of the president, two days before inauguration, Trump told Axios, he likes his briefings short, ideally one page if it`s in writing. "I like bullets or I like as little as possible."

In February, The New York Times reported council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page with lots of graphics and maps. "The president likes maps," one official said.

CIA director Micheal Pompeo said in May Trump likes "killer graphics" in his briefings.

But there`s one exception to the brevity rule. A briefing packet that is more than 20 pages long and it is nicknamed is the propaganda document. That`s Thing 2 in 60 seconds.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t have to be told -- you know, I`m like a smart person. I don`t have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years.


HAYES: The president wasn`t shy about his aversion to daily intel briefings, but there`s one briefing he apparently seems the relish.

According to Vice News, Trump gets a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day. Citing three current White House officials, the so-called propaganda document is 20 to 25 pages long filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons those lower-third headlines and crawls, admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. The follow-up, according to the reporting, around 4:30 p.m.

The RNC helps the White House compile a packet and on days when there are aren`t enough positive chyrons, communication staffers will ask the RNC staffers for flattering photos of the president.

Maybe it`s good for the country that the president is in a good mood in the morning, one RNC official said.

Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the VICE report not accurate but declined to say what was wrong it. One White House official said the only feedback the White House communications shop, which prepares the folder, has ever gotten in all the months is: "It needs to be more f****** positive."


HAYES: There is a decent chance the U.S. Senate will soon count Roy Moore as a member.

You remember Roy Moore, last year he was suspended as Alabama chief justice for refusing to comply with the Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage, and back in 2003 he was ousted as chief justice for defying a federal court order to remove a giant Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.


ROY MOORE, ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: See, it wasn`t about the Ten Commandments, it wasn`t about a monument. It was about the recognition of a sovereign God. They said that`s unfair to the people. That`s unfair to other religions. I`m sorry, but this country was not founded on Muhammad.


HAYES: New polls show Moore, who was once dubbed the ayatollah of Alabama by the Southern Poverty of Law Center, leading a three-man race for the GOP nomination to the Senate seat left open when Jeff Sessions became attorney general.

The first round of voting is next Tuesday with a likely run-off between the top two finishers in late September.

Moore`s Republican primary rivals are not exactly crusading liberals. Representative Mo Brooks is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, who has accused Democrats of staging a quote, war on whites, and Senator Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill Sessions seat until the election, last month called President Trump`s election victory a biblical miracle.

All three have been desperate to tie themselves to the president including Brooks, who faced attack ads over his criticism of Trump before the election.


MO BROOKS, SENATE CANDIDATE: So who are you going to believe? Mitch McConnell and Luther Strange or conservative thought leaders like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingram, Ann Coulter and Mark Levin? They have all endorsed me for Senate because I support President Trump`s America First Agenda.


HAYES: Much more on this absolutely fascinating race and what it tells us about the state of the Republican party under President Trump, right after this break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan Moore is honest. Moore is his own man. Moore fears God, stands for the Constitution, fights for what`s right and believes what we believe. Drain the swamp. Send McConnell a message. Send them all a message.

Roy Moore, Senate.


HAYES: Republican primary in Alabama is in the race for Jeff Sessions old Senate seat is providing a fascinating window into the state GOP base voters 200 days into the Trump presidency.

Two of the top three candidates have repeatedly attacked the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and despite polls that President Trump is losing support nationally even among his core supporters, all three GOP candidates have been battling over who is the most pro-Trump.

Leading the pack according to a new poll is Roy Moore, who as the Alabama chief justice refused to remove a giant Ten Commandments monument for the state judicial meeting, and last year defied the Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriages, leading to his suspension from the bench.

Joining me now, Morgan State University professor Jason Johnson, politics head of The Root, Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter at The Daily Beast.

My sense, Betsy, is that the conservative -- that there is a lot of energy putting into Luther Strange coming from Mitch McConnell, a lot of energy from Mo Brooks coming from the conservative media, and they all don`t want Roy Moore, but that may be what the voters want.

BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. Roy Moore has had national and state level name ID for decades almost I think. The interesting thing about this is that Donald Trump has become the Washington establishment. That`s weird thing about looking some of the campaign adds that are getting run in this primary.

You have Mitch McConnell basically trying to connect Trump to his preferred candidate, something that would have been laughable a year and a half ago.

The other interesting thing is that Roy Moore and Mo Brooks have a really fascinating commonality, which is that both of them are conservative Christians, and both of them during the presidential campaign were really uncomfortable with being closely associated with President Trump.

Mo Brooks called Trump a serial adulterer, I think that`s the term that he used. Roy Moore also throughout much of the campaign really stiff armed Trump, and now you have Luther Strange, the establishment candidate, criticizing these two conservative, as conservative as possible Christian men for not being close enough to Trump.

It shows how much Trump has really made conservative evangelical Christians uncomfortable.

HAYES: He`s sort of taken over. I thought these numbers were fascinating, Jason, of approval ratings. Moore is at 53.34, Strange at 35.50 underwater. Brooks is at 31.43. Mo Brooks is as conservative as you can get in the United States House of Representatives. That appears to not overcome the fact that he is tainted in Washington in the eyes of the primary voter.

JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: So much of this is about cultural arguments. I feel sorry for main line Republicans in Alabama who want a free market conservative who wants to shrink the government and make sure that the markets look fine.

They`re getting these cultural warriors. It`s like all these guys are pretty terrible when it comes to the core issues of governing, but instead they want to get into these larger war on facts, war on culture sort of arguments.

And I`ll be honest with you -- and it looks like right now the polls are going well for Roy Moore, if Roy Moore gets into the Senate, he will be the loud fire brand that the Republican party needs to be concerned about.

This is a guy who -- it`s not just the anti gay rights, it`s not just that he didn`t support changing anti-gay desegregation language in the Alabama Constitution. He is someone who has basically said my personal belief in God supersedes the laws of the land.

That`s not somebody a true Republican party, including Reince Priebus really wants.

HAYES: That`s precisely why I find this so fascinating Betsy. There was a sense that Donald Trump was a perfect storm, there are all of these reasons that he won the primary. But Roy Moore is that right now in this primary. And to me his popularity shows that the base hasn`t lost its appetite for that kind of figure.

WOODRUFF: It also shows how much Republican party politics are just extraordinarily local. And how hard it is to make wide spread national generalizations about what the Trump base looks like and what those voters want. Your typical Trump voter in central Pennsylvania or in northeast Wisconsin is going to think about politics very differently than one of your Trump voters in Alabama.

And that`s why some of these candidates there seems to be a real dissidence in terms of the way Trump acts versus the way your Roy Moore types act.

Trump really is unusual in that brought a New York Republican style of politics into the Republican party. For most of the last 20 years or so, New York Republicans have not been particularly powerful. Right?

Socially moderate types, folks who are not very open or very aggressive about their religious faith. That`s the antithesis of your George W. Bush, it`s also the antithesis of your Roy Moore types. And it`s interesting seeing the resurrection almost of the Bible Belt Republican in the era of the a-religious Republican.

HAYES: There`s more news today that I thought was related to this. Dean Heller, the one Republican Senator representing a state Hillary won who is up in 2018 in Nevada. He got a primary challenger, this is Danny Tarkanian who is the son of the very famous former UNLV coach, who`s run six times I think and hasn`t won yet.

But that is part of the mechanism of ideological enforcement that produces the politics that we have is, Jason it seems to me, precisely that kind of primary challenge which is always waiting in the wings.

JOHNSON: Right. And you have to be careful because you know who is inside, who`s outside and who is considered ideological pure, that goal post is getting a speeding ticket. It just seems to keep moving depending on who happens to be running.

When you think about it, Mo Brooks is out there defending Jeff Sessions. At one point Jeff Sessions was a favorite son of the state and now that`s got him in third place. So, I think Alabama, you can`t derive too much from it because that is pure distilled you know Trump supporters.

I don`t know that necessarily reflective of how his supporters are going to be in other states heading into 2018.

HAYES: It does seem to me Betsy that Republican politicians are watching all of this very carefully as they make their calculations.

WOODRUFF: Without a doubt. I think what`s interesting about Mo Brooks is he`s very much the Alabama version of Ted Cruz. And in a way this initial primary contest is going to be to an extent a referendum on whether or not Ted Cruz Republicans can compete in Donald Trump`s world.

There`s zero daylight between what Moe Brooks pushes for in the house and what Ted Cruz pushes for in the Senate.

If Alabama Republicans reject him, that would be more broadly a repudiation of the action Cruz project.

HAYES: And mark my words, if it`s Luther Strange and Roy Moore in a runoff, Roy Moore could be a United States Senator. Jason Johnson and Betsy Woodruff, thank you both.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now with the one and only Rachel Maddow. Welcome back.