IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 8/10/17 Mess with Mitch

Guests: Ted Lieu, Jim Manley


Date: August 10, 2017

Guest: Ted Lieu, Jim Manley

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Thank you for being with us. And "ALL IN" with Chris Hays starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever.

HAYES: The President meets the press responding to the Manafort raid.

TRUMP: To wake him up, perhaps his family was there, I think that is pretty tough stuff.

HAYES: Weighing in Robert Mueller.

TRUMP: No, I`m not dismissing anybody.

HAYES: Addressing the Russian President.

TRUMP: I want to thank him because we`re trying to cut down on payroll. We`ll save a lot of money.

HAYES: Attacking Mitch McConnell.

TRUMP: I`m very disappointed in Mitch.

HAYES: Touting his nuclear buildup.

TRUMP: I want this, our nuclear arsenal to be the biggest and the finest in the world.

HAYES: While calling for nuclear disarmament.

TRUMP: I would like to de-nuke the world.

HAYE: And mulling the fate of an American territory.

TRUMP: Let`s see what he does with Guam.

HAYES: Tonight, making sense of the President`s escalating rhetoric on North Korea, his full frontal attack on his party`s leadership, and new brutal infighting inside his White House.


HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hays. It was another remarkable day at a certain golf course in New Jersey where today the President of the United States took a break from his vacation to face sustained questions from reporters for the first time in months. It wasn`t quite a full press conference but it`s the closest we`ve come in a long time. And the President sounded off just about on - just all about of the topics of the day including his new attacks on a senior member of his own party Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


TRUMP: I`m very disappointed in Mitch, but if he gets these bills passed, I`ll be very happy with him. I`ll be the first to admit it. But honestly, repeal and replace of ObamaCare should have taken place and it should have been on my desk virtually the first week or the first day I was there. I`ve been hearing about it for seven years.


HAYES: For the first time the President responded to the order by Russian President Vladimir Putin about a week and a half ago to drastically cut U.S. Diplomatic Staff in that country in retaliation for new U.S. sanctions.

TRUMP: I want to thank him because we`re trying to cut down on payroll. And as far as I`m concerned, I`m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There`s no real reason for them to go back. So, I greatly appreciate the fact that they`ve been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We`ll save a lot of money.

HAYES: The President also talks about the Russian investigation including the newly disclosed FBI raid on his former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort saying the news took him by surprise and that the pre-dawn raid was pretty tough stuff. We`ll have much more on that coming up. He also tells reporters he has no intention of firing the person leading that investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you thought or thought about, considered leading the dismissal of the Special Counsel. Is there anything that Bob Mueller could do that would send you in that direction?

TRUMP: I haven`t given it any thought. I mean, I`ve been reading about it from you people. You say I`m going to dismiss him. No, I`m not going to dismiss anybody. I mean, I want them to get on with the task but I also want the Senate and the House to come out with their findings.


HAYES: But of all the subjects the President touched down, none has higher stakes than North Korea which has threatened to attack the U.S. territory of Guam amid an escalating a war of words over the North Korean nuclear program. The president responded to that threat today.


TRUMP: Let`s see what he does with Guam. He does something in Guam, it will be an event to the likes of which nobody has seen before on what will happen in North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when you say that, what do you mean?

TRUMP: You`ll see, you`ll see. And he`ll see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a dare?

TRUMP: He will see. It`s not a dare, it`s a statement. It has nothing to do with a dare, that`s a statement. He is not going around threatening Guam, and he`s not going to threaten the United States, and he`s not going to threaten Japan, and he`s not going to threaten South Korea, no, that`s not a dare. As you say, that is a statement of fact.


HAYES: Those remarks came after the President suggested earlier today that his threat to meet North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen" didn`t go far enough.


TRUMP: The people that were questioning that statement, was too tough? Maybe it wasn`t tough enough. They`ve been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years. And it`s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and the people of other countries. So if anything, maybe that statement wasn`t tough enough. If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about the attack, of anybody, that we love or we represent, or our allies, or us they can be very, very nervous. I`ll tell you what, and they should be very nervous because things will happen to them like they never thought possible.


HAYES: I`m joined now Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. He`s a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, your reaction to the President`s words today in both cases on North Korea.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA) FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: The President`s repeated provocative comments about North Korea are reckless and irresponsible. I served on active duty as an Air Force in Guam, we did a serious and different military exercise and I can tell you, there are no good military options against North Korea. Anything the U.S. does we cannot contain what North Korea might do, which means they could launch devastating strikes on South Korea where over 150,000 Americans live. They can strike Guam who are over 160,000 Americans live. The President needs to do the one thing he has yet to do, which is engage in diplomacy before risking a large loss of American lives.

HAYES: What do you say to those who say, look, that is true, there may be no military options, there truly isn`t. We have been at the stalemate since the 1950s, but nonetheless that the logic of deterrence requires this kind of threats to be made?

LIEU: The logic of deterrence does not require threats like this. What you want is calm, steady, leadership. Mutual short destruction was lived on for decades, requires the ability of the country to believe that a second strike would annihilate that country if United States (INAUDIBLE). What Donald Trump is talking about is a preemptive first strike on North Korea. That leads to miscalculations. That`s exactly what we don`t need at this moment.

HAYES: You know, you have a piece of legislation that`s quite interesting. Restricting first use of nuclear weapons act of 2017 which would essentially require Congressional approval for nuclear weapons which would be a large departure from the status quo from Harry Truman to today. Why are you advocate of that?

LIEU: Senator Markey and I introduced this legislation. The Constitution gives Congress and only Congress the power to declare war. The current large approval process with nuclear weapons is unconstitutional. There is no way the framers would have given one person, the President the ability to launch thousands of nuclear weapons that can kill hundreds of millions of people in less than an hour because that is war. If you don`t call that war, you read out the Constitution and make sure that the President does not do a pre meditative first strike, we need a Congressional declaration to approve that first.

HAYES: And you would - you would support that obviously for any president of either party no matter their personality, disposition, or politics.

LIEU: That`s correct. We actually introduce this legislation last year where everyone believes Hillary Clinton was going to be President. We need a structural fix especially because future presidents may also have a mental incapacity, maybe things could happen to just one person. We need to have more people involved than just having one person to be able to launch thousands of nuclear weapons.

HAYES: I want to get your reaction to the President`s comments about Vladimir Putin`s decision to reduce U.S. diplomatic personnel by almost 800 people in Russia. He said - he thanks them for reducing the payroll. What do you make of that?

LIEU: I have no idea of why the President of the United States continues to have this bizarre relationship with Putin. Any other president would have said that that was inappropriate, that we don`t want to have Russian taking actions against our U.S. diplomats. Instead, the President seems to make a joke of it. And to me, that is widely inappropriate.

HAYES: All right. Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you for your time tonight.

LIEU: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Joining me now is Republican Strategist, MSNBC Political Analyst Steve Schmidt. Let me - I guess, I`ll continue on that. Did you find that statement as strange as I did? The Russia one?

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, of course, it was. And it`s just so denigrating to the service of foreign service officers who served often in dangerous places and uncomfortable places (INAUDIBLE) American diplomat. Moscow or anywhere Russia falls into that category.

HAYES: Yes, that`s a good point. I mean, there`s something somewhat insulting from essentially the boss of these people saying we`re happy they`re fired, we don`t need them anyway.

SCHMIDT: Yes, life of a foreign service officer is not an easy one. These people served their country, their job demands much of them much sacrifice for their families. We honor and (INAUDIBLE) our military families. The work of foreign service officers is often as of equally dangerous measure and imposes the same type of hardships with overseas postings that so many of our military families endure.

HAYES: What do you generally make of the President today who clearly felt - my read on it is that he`s bottled in and they haven`t let him go and talk to the press and he really does like doing it and wants to do it, and today he was able to break out.

SCHMIDT: Sure, it an extemporaneous performance theater for the President. He`s not measuring his words, he`s not necessarily prepared to speak to many of these issues in depth. And of course, bellicosity, as we`ve arrived at the hour of the first real crisis, this North Korea situation, is an extremely dangerous one. We arrived at the hour that the last three administrations, two Democratic, one Republican deeply worried about so many diplomatic efforts trying to prevent the arrival of this day where the North Korea inside the capacity to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, to place it on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile and target the United States. It is an unspeakable threat to the security of this country.

There are no good options. But history teaches us that often events overtake us. That miscalculation happen, that we don`t understand fully the intentions of our adversary on the other side. And when you`re talking about nuclear brinkmanship, a miscalculation can be profoundly dangerous. We don`t know much about North Korea. It`s an extremely closed society. Our intelligence assets in North Korea are very different than what they were in the Soviet Union for example during the Cold War. Much of the country, its decision making, how it runs, how it functions is a mystery to us. So the chance of miscalculation, of course, grows up.

And should there be a hot war on the Korean Peninsula, it will be an event the likes of which we`ve not seen since the-since the end of World War II. The Korean war was, of course, a great tragedy, the Vietnam war was one where almost 60,000 Americans sacrificed in a (INAUDIBLE) and of course, blood and treasure of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But we`re talking about on China`s doorstep, an engagement on a peninsula where tens and tens of thousands of Americans are likely to be killed, not to mention upwards of over a million Koreans with enormous global impact. We`ve not had a war like that in this inter-connective global society that we live in. It`s a terrifying prospect and Donald Trump has shown none of the discernment, the judgment, the decision making, the severity that we expect of American President operating in hours of crisis.

HAYES: What do you make of the improvising on the language? It was clear the other day he said, fire and fury, the reporting later said that he was - he was improvising. Today both times, I have to - I have to admit that my stomach was nuts. I mean, with every sentence, with every pause, I find myself really worried about where the sentence is going to go. What do you make of the improvising?

SCHMIDT: Well, it`s new in the modern history of the - of the Presidency. We`ve grown up in a world Chris where Presidents of both parties, whether we agree with the policy or disagreed with them, we all agreed that the words of the President of the United States had meaning. The words of this President have little meaning for a lot of reasons and that, too, can be profoundly dangerous.

We`ve seen now at the 200 day mark routinely the Vice President of the United States, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, other senior administration officials routinely going out saying, well, the President didn`t mean that, trying to walk it back, trying to clarify it as if the President is someone incapacitated that needs to be cared for by these other senior wise men around him. But in this country, constitutionally, the vestiture of power is with the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States. And he is clearly, clearly not a believer in the power of words in the way that many of his predecessors have been.

HAYES: Do you have - final question about McConnell. Do you understand why the President is going after the Majority Leader?

SCHMIDT: Of course, it`s a preposterous situation. I mean, look, if you were an aluminum siding sales man, and you were going door to door you know, to senior citizen developments of Florida with the same type of stick that Republicans objected Republican voters in the country too over the last seven years. There`s a word for that, it`s called fraud. You go to jail. And so, for the last seven years, Republicans have told the country, told the Republican voters that they`re going repeal ObamaCare. They win the majority, they have a Republican waiting to sign the legislation.

And guess what? There`s no plan. The legislative process was something that approximated a banana republic. And now we move on to tax reform or the infrastructure which is more complicated. I think it was incredibly truthful statement by Donald Trump. What`s interesting, it`s usually the case that members of Congress attack an unpopular President of their party and as unpopular as Donald Trump may be, he`s double the rating of the popularity of the Congress.

HAYES: That`s true.

SCHMIDT: So very easy punching bag for Donald Trump. And by comparison, they`re one of the few institutions of group of people that make him look all right on any given day.

HAYES: All right, Steve Schmidt, thanks for your time.

Up next, much more on the Presidential taunting of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, why he`s picking a fight with the most powerful Republican in Congress and why it could be dangerous for the President`s agenda after the two-minute break.



TRUMP: I said Mitch, get to work and let`s get it done. They should have had this last one done, they lost by one vote. The thing like that to happen is a disgrace.


HAYES: The President is ostensively feuding the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the failure of the Health Care bill but the criticism only started in earnest after McConnell commented about the President`s expectations earlier this week. Comments that have been repeatedly played on the cable news shows that the President likes to watch.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Our new President has not been in this line of work before, and I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.


HAYES: As was so many Donald Trump feuds, the fight with McConnell first escalated on Twitter. Yesterday, the President wrote, "Senator Mitch McConnell said I have excessive expectations, I don`t think so. After seven years of hearing repeal and replace, why not done? This morning, he wrote "Can you believe that Mitch McConnell who screams repeal and replace for seven years couldn`t get it done. Must repeal and replace ObamaCare." A few hours later, from the golf club that he owned where he`s currently vacationing, he added, "Mitch, get back to work and put repeal and replace, tax reform and cuts, and a great infrastructure bill on my desk for signing, you can do it."

The fight has divided Republicans, right-wing media siding with Donald Trump. Laura Ingraham, for example, tweeted "Hey, Kentucky, time to sell Senate Majority Leader McConnell to stop rolling over for the Dems. Advance the Trump agenda or step aside" while Senators have been siding with their leader. Utah`s Orrin Hatch, for example, tweeting out, Senate Majority Leader has been the best leader we`ve had in my time in the Senate though very tough challenges. I fully support him. Joining me now is Jim Manley, former Chief Spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who spent a lot of time squaring off against Mitch McConnell. He`s a very expert Mitch McConnell-logist. What do you make of this?

JIM MANLEY, FORMER CHIEF SPOKESPERSON FOR HARRY REID: Chris, I`m spending another night with you trying to figure out what exactly this President is up to. Again, once again, it defies every rule. The whole nexus of his legislative agenda revolves around not the House but the Senate. So to assault and or trash the Majority Leader like this is just unprecedented. What is he up to? I can only assume he`s kind of figure out a way to try and provide just a little bit of distance between himself and House and Senate Republicans because nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year as you and I talked about before. They`re not going to get tax reform done, they`re not going get an infrastructure bill done, and they probably get -

HAYES: Do you think - you think that`s true and you think he knows it and he is trying essentially to put the blame on McConnell ahead of time?

MANLEY: Yes, exactly. Again, once again, in a very handed and or heavy fisted manner, and is bound to blow up but yes I think that`s part of what is going on here. But it also was going to allow McConnell - as you suggest that I know Senator McConnell well enough to know that he could actually care less about what this President has to say. He`s overwhelmingly popular in his home state, he`s got the strong support of his caucus and from here on out, it`s going to be where the - you know, whether positions come together again such as tax cut for the wealthy and or big corporations they`ll work together but I can`t imagine this guy is going to go to the mat for this President especially when he`s polling at 36 percent approval rating.

HAYES: Yes, I wonder in terms of - McConnell`s personality can be very hard to read. I don`t know the man very well at all but you know, the John McCain moment when he puts the thumbs down and kills the repeal - the repeal bill, you know, I thought back to the fact that McCain famously is able to hold a grudge. The President famously said I like people that weren`t captured about his times at POW. What`s McConnell like? How does this - will this make him less inclined to help the President? Does he bear grudges? Will he look for revenge?

MANLEY: Well, the revenge is you know, probably - it may or may not take a while. Again, the emphasize - he`s not going to pay any attention to this. You know, a guy like Speaker Ryan quite frankly would get very mad with this assault but McConnell can care less. Again, he`s keeping the focus on his prize, and that`s trying to get tax cuts done and trying to get infrastructure done and third thing is to protect his caucus. So he is more so than just about any other Senator I have ever seen immune to these kind of criticisms. That`s why I never understand you know, the thing about Bernie Sanders and others saying, we`ve got to take it to Mitch McConnell. Mitch - Senator McConnell could care less about what the average folks think.

HAYES: That is a really interesting window into how McConnell operates. You then do think that they`re not going to take another run at repeal and replace because part of what`s interesting here is both the President attempting to cast blame on McConnell but he seems prodding him to take another run at it even though you`re hearing most folks on the Republican side of the Senate saying no thank you.

MANLEY: No, I mean, his caucus has made it very clear they want to get this behind them as quickly as they want to put it behind them once and for all. Maybe they will try and work on some fixes to try and provide a little of stability to the system, but no, his caucus has had it. Again, their whole goal is work on tax cuts, but before they get to that, as you know, previous on your network has said, I mean, there is a looming shut - possibility of a shutdown coming forward in September when they have to deal with government spending and or the debt limit. And as I told you before, I mean, there is part of me that thinks McConnell and Ryan actually need this kind of shenanigans to throw red meat to the base to get Trump off his back. Trump of course - the President could care less whether you know, they default or not. He just (INAUDIBLE) for a fight.

HAYES: All right, Jim Manley, thanks for joining me.

MANLEY: Thank you.

HAYES: Ahead, the President`s first comments on the FBI raid of his former Campaign Chair`s home. We`ll play his very calculated response next. And later, the insane controversy between the Trump White House and the Secretary of State and this guy.

GORKA: I never said that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve never said -

GORKA: I`ve never said the secretary of state was - that is fake news 101.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, there`s audio of you saying the word nonsensical.

GORKA: I have the audio. I have the audio as well, thank you.


HAYES: For the first time since we learned of a pre-dawn FBI raid at the Northern Virginia Home of President Trump`s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, the President himself has responded.


TRUMP: I thought it was a very, very strong signal or whatever. I know Mr. Manafort, I haven`t spoken to him in a long time, but I know him. He was with the campaign as you know for a very short period of time, relatively short period of time but I`ve always known him. He`s a good, good man. I thought it was a very, you know, they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it. We haven`t really been involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you spoken to the FBI Director about it?

TRUMP: Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you spoken to the FBI Director about it?

TRUMP: No, I have not. I have not. But to do that early in the morning whether or not it was appropriate, you`d have to ask them. I have always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. And he`s like a lot of other people probably makes consultant fees from all over the place. Who knows. To wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that`s tough stuff.


TRUMP: To wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that is pretty tough stuff.


HAYES: The President had, even more, to say today about the Russia investigation including whether he is considering Firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, that`s next.



TRUMP: We have a situation which is very unusual. Everybody said there`s no collusion.

So we have an investigation of something that never took place. And all I say is work with them because this is an event that never took place.


HAYES: President Trump from his club in Bedminster, New Jersey today insisted nothing to the Russian investigation speaking publicly for the first time since his reveal that the home of his former campaign manager was raided.

Now the president was also asked about whether he was considering firing the special council Robert Mueller.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anything Bob Mueller could do to send you in that direction.

TRUMP: I haven`t given it any thought. I mean I`ve been reading about it from you people. You say, oh, I`m going to dismiss him. No, I`m not dismissing anybody. I want them to get on with the task.

But I also want the Senate and the House to come out with their findings. There is no collusion and you know why? Because I don`t speak to Russians.


HAYES: The president`s lawyer took a much harsher tone on the special council on an email he sent to the Wall Street Journal. Attorney John Dowd described the FBI raid of Manafort`s home as "a gross abuse of the judicial process." To quote him further, "These methods are normally found and employed in Russia not America. This extraordinary invasive tool was employed for its shock value." And then today, Manafort`s spokesperson announced that Manafort was changing his legal representation.

Joining me now, Betsy Woodruff, political reporter at The Daily Beast and Ken Vogel of The New York Times. You guys have both been reporting on this story.

Betsy, let me start with you. Why is he changing his legal representation?

BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: The official story from team Manafort is that the nature Mueller investigation has changed so much that he needed to bring on someone who had tax specialization, and that is absolutely the case with Kevin Downing who`s going to be his new lawyer.

Downing in fact has a history with Rod Rosenstein, the number two guy over at the justice department. Rod was Kevin`s boss when they were both in the tax division focused on very high level, complicated white collar crime prosecutions.

Kevin understands better than anyone in DC how these international criminal tax situations tend to play out, it`s kind of his thing.

That said, there is also speculation there could have been some tension between Manafort and his attorney. It is possible there is more to the story than the official version that what we`re getting from team Manafort. The situation is rocky.

HAYES: I want to come back to that because there is some interesting back story there.

Ken I want to ask you this, you have been reporting on the White House side, the president seemed like you could watch him walk a tight rope as he talked about Manafort. What is their feeling about Manafort right now.

KEN VOGEL, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You`re absolutely right in that characterization, Chris, of a tight rope.

On the one hand, he is given the party line that he and the White House have put forth on Manafort for several months now. He played a limited role for a limited period of time during the campaign. I think that it`s a little disingenuous. He really helped bring on the Republican establishment, helped him clinch the nomination.

That said, they are trying to keep their distance a little bit. But, at the same time, they are trying to make sure that he stays on board. They say nice things about him. They poo poo the investigation, they cast it as an witch hunt even when it pertains to Manafort, who, let`s face it, the Feds are going to be under pressure to bring an indictment against someone, and other than Mike Flynn, Manafort is the guy who is really the most likely suspect there.

So, they want to make sure that he stays on their good side because there is concern among folks that I talk to in Trump world that he could potentially flip on them and if he did he might have the most to be able to say that would have negative consequences for Trump and his team.

HAYES: Betsy, you have to imagine their worried about that. I thought this report from Blooomberg was interesting, that he had, Manafort himself alerted authorities to that meeting on June 9th, 2016, the now famous eight-person meeting that included Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr., which followed the e-mail about the Russian government offering its dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Him offering that authorities could be seen by some and think is him sort of saying, hey, I`m looking to cooperate.

WOODRUFF: That`s not my understanding of the way that this works from Manafort`s perspective. The New York Times noted that the authorities first learned about that June conversation from revelations that Manafort made to congressional investigators, not to members of law enforcement.

That said though, of course the way that Manafort fits into the triangulation that Mueller probe is doing is really important.

An important piece of context here is that, to Ken`s point, Manafort is the largest and most slow moving target for Mueller. Part of the reason for that is because there are so many indicators that he had foreign bank accounts that he may not have disclosed on his tax forms.

One of the easiest ways that tax prosecutors can lock somebody up is if they do whats called a check the box prosecution. If Manafort ever filed a tax return and did not reveal, did not disclose he had money overseas, that he had foreign bank accounts, that itself could be game over for him. And all of the sudden could make him very easy for Mueller to potentially work with.

VOGEL: We don`t even have to look. That is certainly what they`re focusing on, and the chain of legal council is clearly driven by this. However, Manafort has already admitted that he violated a law here, the Foreign Agents Registration Act that he did not file in a timely fashion reporting his work in Ukraine for the Party of Regions. And he retro actively did so.

That is an admission that he broke a federal law. Not one that`s typically enforced, certainly not enforced with a lot of teeth, but that said, there is already that opening for Mueller and for congressional investigators to go after and build a case against Paul Manafort.

HAYES: Now, Betsy, we have seen Manafort switch his representation. The president keeps bringing new people on, and other people layered, what`s the status of the president`s legal team right now.

They`re playing catch up. They`re trying to figure out what is going on so they can react to things quickly, and part of the reason his own legal representation process has been such a mess, in my understanding from speaking to former federal prosecutors, and folks at DOJ now is that the president just doesn`t seem to understand the way that lawyer`s work.

There is a broad sense in the DC legal community that the president views lawyers as blunt objects. As means to an end. As tools that he uses, as pieces of his on his chessboard that are interchangeable, that are replaceable, that he doesn`t have to listen to if he doesn`t like the advice that they are giving.

And the result is that the legal team he has is just constantly in flux, and it`s always struggling to persuade the president to do what they need him to do. And the result has been that the most powerful man has been in some of the most unorthodox legal situations.

HAYES: That`s a great point.

Ken, were you surprised at the tone that Dowd took on the raid? That was very much a departure from how they have been talking about special council Mueller up to this point.

VOGEL: Yeah, and it was a more forceful defense of Manafort, or at least attack on those who are prosecuting Manafort, so it stood out in both of those ways. I think there is some interesting back story on how it came out.

This was an e-mail that was sent to The Wall Street Journal that was reported by a different media outlet. Clearly it was something that the Trump team or at least this particular lawyer wanted to get out there. I think probably it fits into the paradigm where they`re trying to say nice things about Manafort that makes him feel good to some extent.

HAYES: Alright, thank you Woodruff and Ken Vogel.

Coming up, the nonstop infighting in the Trump administration. Why the president seems to be fueled by chaos ahead.

And a new milestone in Thing one, Thing two, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing One tonight, a major milestone for President Trump and it has to do with this.


TRUMP: I love golf, but if were in the White House, I don`t think i would ever see --

There won`t be time to go golfing all of the time.

I don`t think I`d ever see him again.

I`m not going to play much golf because there is a lot of work to be done.

I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off.

Obama plays more than professional players on the PGA tour.

You`re in the White House, who the hell wants to play golf.

Golf golf golf, more, more.

I`m not going to time to go play golf, believe me. Believe me, folks.


HAYES: Somehow, the president has found the time to play golf, and today he set a golfing record. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: President Trump hit the 200th day of his presidency this week, that was on Monday, but today, a far more elusive achievement. This is the 50th day President Trump has spent at a golf property that he owns since taking office.

This is, we believe, a new world record for an American president mostly because I don`t think we`ve ever had one that owned his own golf course before.

Now it`s hard to calculate how many of those days he`s actually played golf since Trump aides refuse to tell us if he is hitting the links. Prompting press pool reports that read like this, "Trump left his golf club after four-and-a-half hours. About the amount of time it takes to play a round of golf, pool was told meetings."

Or, "After four hours at Trump International Golf Course in West Palm, Pres Trump back at Mar-a-Lago, White House offers no info on what are his activities there."

"After four-and-a-half hours spent at golf course today, pool reporters saw golf clubs taken from motorcade."

But let`s not get bogged down on the details on a milestone day. President Trump is now halfway to 100 days at his golf courses.


TRUMP: You know, it`s funny, if I get elected president, I`m going to be in the White House a lot. I`m not leaving. We have deals to make. Who wants to leave, right? (END VIDEO CLIP)



SEBASTIAN GORKA,DEPUTY ASSSISTANT TO PRESIDENT: The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical. It is the job of Secretary Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, to talk about the military options. Secretary Tillerson is the Chief Diplomat of the United States, and it is his portfolio to handle with those issues.


HAYES: That was Sebastian Gorka, who has the relatively lowly title of Deputy Assistant to the president, telling BBC that no one should listen to the Secretary of State on military matters.

His comments came after Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, sought to calm nerves yesterday after President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un exchanged aggressive threats over the use of nuclear weapons.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I do not believe that there is an eminent threat in my own view. I think Americans should sleep well at night, I have no concern over this particular rhetoric in the last few days.


HAYES: Gorka is a lightly credentialed ally of Steve Bannon, with ties to the far right and anti Semitic figures in Hungary. His presence in the White House is described by one national defense university professor as quote, "surreal and horrifying".

Asked about his comments about Tillerson today, Gorka insisted he hadn`t been attacking the Secretary of State.


GORKA: I never said the Secretary -- That is fake news 101.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is audio of you saying nonsensical.

GORKA: I have the audio as well, thank you. I said for reporters to force our chief diplomat, the amazing Rex Tillerson to give details of military options is nonsensical.

I was admonishing the journalists and the fake news industrial complex -- if a journalist doesn`t know the difference between the Secretary of State and the Department of Defense, they should hand in their credentials.


HAYES: So let`s listen again to the audio and you can decide what he said.


GORKA: The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical. It is the job of Secretary Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, to talk about options. Secretary Tillerson is the chief diplomat of the United States and it is his portfolio to handle those issues.


HAYES: This afternoon the State Department was asked about the comments. Spokesperson Heather Nauert did not call it fake news 101.


HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Secretary Tillerson has not spoken about U.S. military capabilities. You all hear me very often from this room when you ask me about U.S. military assets or plans, I refer you to DOD.

I think everyone clearly heard what Secretary Tillerson`s forceful comments have been and continue to be on the issue of DPRK and other issues as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you think he should be paid attention to correct?

NAUERT: Yes. He is cabinet secretary, he is fourth in line to the presidency, he carries a big stick.


HAYES: Well, public nasty infighting is nothing new in this administration. According to the president, they`re all just fighting for his love. Yes he said that, and yes that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TRUMP: And then you have the leaks where people want to love me and they`re all fighting for love. Those are not very important but certainly we don`t like them. Those are inner White House leaks. They`re not very important. But actually I`m somewhat honored by them.


HAYES: An amazing moment of unguarded honesty from the President of the United States today saying he`s honored of reports of conflict among his top staffers who he says just want his love. This is a White House virtually defined by conflict. Think about it, in the past two weeks we`ve seen the following, Anthony Scaramucci versus Reince Priebus, which turned out to be lose, lose. Steve Bannon`s alt-right army versus H.R. McMaster. Sebastian Gorka versus Rex Tillerson. And President Trump himself versus his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

The president is also now feuding with Senator Mitch McConnell who he blames for the GOP failure to roll back Obamacare. The question is why. Why are they all fighting all of the time and what effect is it having?

Joining me now, Bethany Mandel, she`s Senior Contributor at The Federalist and Olivia Nuzzi, who`s a Washington corespondent for New York Magazine.

And Olivia, as someone who covers the intrigue in the White House, did you find the president`s honesty intriguing when he talked about why he likes those leaks?

OLIVIA NUZZI, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I did certainly. I think it was honest in a way. I think that a lot of the time he probably is flattered by it. And when he reads about it in the press -- we know he reads his own press, I`m sure he feels particularly important even though it might seem petty to us. He`s President of the United States, to be focusing on things like that. It is important to him.

Remember this is somebody who got his start in the New York tabloids in the media, in wrestling and then in reality television, and so I think this is sort of just what`s natural for him, to kind of preside over chaos.

We`ve talked about previously how he`s easily bored and that has a lot to do with what we see in the White House, with him poking at people and contributing to the sense of everyone fighting with each other.

HAYES: Among liberals on the left there`s constant infighting that is largely continued from the primary and they`re both ideological and personality wise, and there are similarities I think on the conservative side.

How much do these fights end up keep drawing in ideological allies or adversaries.

BETHANY MANDEL, THE FEDERALIST: I think people have drawn their lines of what they think -- everyone has sort of decided what they think this administration is going to look like and people have said, okay, I`m anti-Trump and that`s it. There`s not been a lot of intellectual honesty about this was not the worst thing in the world. This was potentially starting World War III, which is somewhat problematic what`s going on right you with North Korea.

HAYES: I`m curious, when you`re watching this H.R. McMaster versus the alt-right go on which is an insanely bloody feud. You have Breitbart going after the national security adviser.

MANDEL: You have a hashtag.

HAYES: A hashtag in the most gross ways that a puppeteer, that he`s a marionette. What does that do to folks who are watching this on the right?

MANDEL: I mean I can speak for myself first.

HAYES: Yeah.

MANDEL: It`s exacerbating, to the point where I`m almost not even paying attention anymore, because this is how they`re conducting themselves in the White House. It`s all a game and a reality television show.

For me as a conservative, not necessarily a Republican, it`s heartbreaking because we have control of every single part of government and it`s turned into a reality show that might end in a world war.

HAYES: God, I hope not. Bethany makes an interesting point, Olivia. Since Republicans do control all of government, some of the in-fighting that strikes me is because the Democrats -- you can`t blame the Democrats for opposition.

If things aren`t getting done it`s got to be someone`s fault and it`s hard to sell the idea that it`s Democrats` fault and thus it gets internalized. What do you think of that?

NUZZI: I totally agree. Trump has tried to blame the Democrats on things like health care but it doesn`t stick because it`s not tethered to reality. So now he`s fighting with Jeff Sessions obviously, now he`s fighting with Mitch McConnell. I don`t think it`s particularly surprising.

This is somebody who loves to have an enemy, no matter who the enemy is. He`s still talking about Hillary Clinton and the election was nearly a year ago and he`s still fighting with the media and continuing that war. And so, you know, it matters in the grand scheme of things and it has anything to do with the lack of his ability to push through an agenda.

He`s frustrated by his low approval numbers, frustrated by not getting anything done and the way that that manifest is he just lashes out.

HAYES: Do you see it as -- so there`s two ways to think about it, strategic or impulse. When he was going after Jeff Sessions, that was just a week and a half ago. He`s like humiliating his attorney general in terms that would be an unthinkable scandal and bizarre scandal in any other administration.

Do you see that as him trying to pressure Sessions in a strategic sense or do you see it as impulse?

MANDEL: I think it`s a little bit of both. It`s not smart strategically, so my thinking on it that it has to be impulse. For better or for worse, he seems to be politically gifted in some way. That`s how he got to where he is. We have to give him that credit.

And everything that he has done, I`m less inclined to think that it`s impulse and more that it`s strategy.

HAYES: Do you think that, Olivia, on the Sessions and on McConnell, which both seem self harming in certain ways, whether that is a strategic decision or an impulse?

NUZZI: I think it`s a combination of both. I agree.

Donald Trump, even though he obviously is, as you said, a little bit politically talented considering he`s president, he still doesn`t really understand how things work in Washington. He doesn`t understand how the Justice Department works, he doesn`t understand how Congress works and why they can`t push through what he wants to do and why he`s not just succeeding because he`s president.

A lot of it has to do with just thinking, well, maybe what people need is they need to hear from me that I`m not going to take this anymore.

So I guess it`s strategic in that sense. But i think, you know, as you said, it`s not the smartest strategy in the world. It`s strange to describe it that way, I guess.

HAYES: One of the things he said today, he was talking about budgets. We were going to cut and now we`re going to build up, I decided. Literally as if he were a king. There`s a big budgetary process, a big fight in Congress about that, and he really, I think he doesn`t understand the restraints on him and that`s part of what the frustration is.

MANDEL: You look at sort of who he`s attacking, he`s attacking the people who the Americans like the least, the media and Congress.

HAYES: And that`s where the political instincts come in.

Bethany Mandel and Olivia Nuzzi, thank you both.

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