Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 25, 2017 Guest: Jill Wine-Banks, Naveed Jamali, Richard Painter, Charlie Sykes, Catherine Rampell, Raul Grijalva
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Russia is fake news.
HAYES: Mueller ramping up his investigation seeking Grand Jury testimony from colleagues of Paul Manafort and new questions about Michael Flynn.
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: If I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail.
HAYES: Then the latest on Hurricane Harvey.
TOM BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: This is right up President Trump`s alley.
HAYES: How the President is dealing with his first national emergency.
Plus, more fallout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who were the very fine people who were protesting with the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville?
HAYES: Cabinet members compelled to explain why they won`t quit!
STEVEN MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES TREASURY SECRETARY: Gary`s committed to be here and couldn`t be more excited about that.
HAYES: What Secretary Mnuchin and his wife really did in Kentucky and surprise, there is no plan.
TRUMP: Our tax reform and tax plan is coming along very well. It will be submitted in the not too distant future.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Tonight, the gulf coast is bracing for impact from Hurricane Harvey, which was just upgraded to a major Category four storm. It`s expected to make landfall in Eastern Texas sometime in the next two to six hours. Mandatory evacuations are in effect. Over a dozen counties ahead of what`s predicted to be the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. in over a decade, bringing winds up to 125 miles per hour, possible record setting rainfall and potentially catastrophic flooding. We`re keeping an eye on the hurricane as it approaches, and will bring you updates throughout the show, tonight. But first, we got breaking news on the Russia investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. NBC News reporting exclusively on the first public indication that Mueller`s team is now issuing subpoenas to compel witness testimony before a Grand Jury. NBC`s Ken Dilanian was part of the team that broke the story. Ken, what can you tell us?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE, AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Chris, what NBC News is reporting tonight is that Robert Mueller has issued a series of Grand Jury subpoenas to compel testimony from a group of executives involved in a lobbying campaign back from 2012 to 2014 on behalf of a Russian backed Ukrainian party. This is the same political party that paid Paul Manafort some $17 million we now know now from his latest lobbying disclosure. In fact, at the time -- now don`t forget, this campaign was disclosed by the Associated Press back during the election in August of 2016. At the time, none of the firms involved had registered as a lobbyist for a foreign power.
Some of them have now done that under pressure from the Justice Department. Manafort has don`t it as well and now, the Mueller team is asking questions about how the money flowed, what was this about, whether it was a legitimate lobbying campaign, what was Manafort`s role? But they`re not just asking, they`re seeking to compel the testimony of people before the Grand Jury. And as you know, Chris, when you go before a Grand Jury, you cannot lie, if you lie, you are liable to go to jail.
HAYES: This is the first indication we have, right? This is the first concrete evidence of the reporting of compelled subpoena for testimony before a Grand Jury in this investigation?
DILANIAN: That`s absolutely right. There`s been many report and we`ve reported that Mueller has been using Grand Jury to subpoena documents. Now, it appears, he`s moving into the test (INAUDIBLE). There may be other instances of him subpoenaing testimony. This is just the one we know about it.
DILANIAN: And if -- and this is how these things work, right? We can expect many months of people being called before Grand Juries. Reporters will find out object about. We will go to the Courthouse, we will seek to interview and so hopefully, we`ll be learning more about what Mueller is up to in this investigation.
HAYES: All right, NBC`s Ken Dilanian with a great scoop, thank you very much.
DILANIAN: Thank you, Sir.
HAYES: That`s not the only breaking story on the Russia investigation tonight. According to the Wall Street Journal, investigators are now looking at efforts by Peter W. Smith, that`s a Republican activist, longtime activist, and donor, to obtain Hillary Clinton`s deleted e-mails from Russian hackers. Those efforts first reported by the Journal on a scoop back in June and the big question in Smith`s case at the time and now, was whether he was freelancing or whether he had the backing of the Trump campaign. Smith had presented himself according to reporting as a campaign affiliate, even name dropping senior campaign officials in a recruiting document and now, according to the Journal, investigators are taking him seriously. They are reportedly examining whether Michael Flynn, of course, the former National Security Adviser also a key campaign surrogate, played any role in Smith`s effort. Conducting interviews and collecting information as part of their investigation.
Jill Wine-Banks is a Prosecutor on the Watergate Investigation, Naveed Jamali is a former FBI Double Agent Specialized in Counterintelligence with Russian Spies. Jill let me start with you. The Peter Smith strand of this is always been sort of interesting loose thread. We`ve got the -- we got the e-mail that places Don Jr. and Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner at the meeting with the promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government, but there`s this other thing that happened with this donor, who said he was close to the campaign, looking for Hillary`s e-mail from Russian hackers and saying he`s close to General Flynn. What does it say to you that Mueller`s team is now looking into that?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: It means they`re taking it seriously and it will be interesting. The other interesting aspect of this is, of course, is that Mr. Smith committed suicide shortly after talking to the Washington -- to the Wall Street Journal. And so, we cannot get his testimony under oath. All we have is what we know so far and that`s what he told to the Wall Street Journal and it certainly implicates Mr. Flynn. So, we need to find out from Mr. Flynn whether he participated with Mr. Smith.
HAYES: Yes, that`s an important point on this. It was only a few days about ten days before he committed suicide that he talked to this Wall Street Journal reporter told him this whole story, was a little cagey about how close to the campaign he was. Naveed, there`s a security analyst who is contacted by Peter Smith at one point, again, the donor who was a very connected figure. I mean, he was at the sort of center of a lot of anti- Clinton work back in the `90s, knows a lot of people. There was a security analyst that Smith contacted who said look, it sounded when I talk to him like he was in the know on the campaign. He was pretty connected to the campaign. What do you make of this part of the story?
NAVEED JAMALI, FORMER FBI DOUBLE AGENT: Yes, you know, I`m concerned. I`m concerned about it not just because of the potential criminal part of this, but I`m concerned because you know, the Russians were able to acquire Hillary Clinton`s e-mails or they were able to set up an elaborate dangle that was able the to get to someone like Peter Smith and then potentially by extension to our short-term NSA Michael Flynn. That is something that we should be concerned about. Look, Chris, at the end of the day, you know, the criminal part of this is incredibly important and the American public needs to know what exactly happened and what crimes if any were convicted -- were perpetrated, but the other part of this is what exactly did the Russians do? Clearly, the Russians had a very deep and wide operation going. That door was open and do date, I have not heard that we have spent one dollar, increase the force of counterintelligence to one (INAUDIBLE) and that really, really concerns me. This leaves the door open.
HAYES: This is -- you`ve been sort of talking about this. I want to follow up on this and get back to you for a second, Jill. But Naveed, you followed up, I mean, there`s so much focus on the possible connection with the Trump campaign and the possibility of collusion, what they were doing. But your point and one you`re hammering home, this was -- I mean, just based on what we`ve seen, the party part of the iceberg above the surface, the Russians were up to quite a bit here. There was a lot of different avenues of entry it would appear and what you`re saying is it`s unclear whether those avenues have been rooted out definitively chronicled and shut down.
JAMALI: That`s exactly right and look to kind of bring it even home, you know, even if Donald Trump today pled guilty to a crime, that does not close the counterintelligence door that the Russians were able to walk through. And the only way we can do that -- and this is the frustrating part for people in the intelligence community, is that you need to spend resources. We need to admit that this was a counterintelligence failure. The Russians were successful, this was a failure and there should be something akin to a 9/11 commission to understand what happened and more importantly, how to fix it.
HAYES: Jill, on the -- on the earlier story that we started this block with Ken Dilanian saying that Mueller is now compelling testimony, subpoenaing actual testimony before the Grand Jury from associates or Manafort, how big a step is that?
BANKS: It`s the next logical step. It`s what would normally happen in an investigation. But I do want to go back to your last question because I really do feel and have felt from the beginning, that the underlying crime here skipping ahead to the obstruction, but really just looking at the underlying crime, could potentially be so much more serious than the break in at the Watergate. This is something that threatens our democracy at its very core. There were serious attempts and apparently, some successes in hacking into our electoral system and that threatens democracy in a way that a break in at the DNC never did. So I think we have to really spend time -- I agree completely, we need to investigate that even if no one in the Trump campaign was involved at all. It`s a serious thing that needs to be investigated.
HAYES: All right. I`m going to ask you guys to hold on a second because we`re just getting some breaking news on an extremely busy news night with the Hurricane barreling towards Texas, about to make landfall, first category four in 12 years, the first one in Texas since 1961. The President has done two things tonight as he`s departed for Camp David. One, he`s issued it appears the memo about transgender military service essentially directing James Mattis to have the ability to close the service off from transgender members who want to serve and leaving the fate of those in the military up in the air. And then -- that happened a few hours ago -- and now, again, in the midst of this moment with that category bearing down with the President at Camp David, we just get this.
This is the President of the United States issuing I believe his first pardon in office and the first pardon in office using his constitutional power to pardon goes to none other than Sheriff Joe Arpaio, that, of course, is the extremely controversial figure in Maricopa County in Arizona who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to stop detaining Latino immigrants in violation according to the court of their civil rights. The President tonight granting a Presidential Pardon to Joe Arpaio, the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, (INAUDIBLE) talking about his selfless public service after serving in the Army, his bio, clearing him of that charge. We know that that was something that he essentially promised the other night when he was in Phoenix and incredibly, incredibly controversial decision that will be faced with tremendous backlash.
Joe Arpaio just lost re-election by ten points in an area despite the fact that it was quite Republican because of the fact largely he was perceived as being a lawless dogged pursuer of bigoted policies directed against Latinos. A court finding him criminally in contempt and him being convicted, which itself is quite rare to get to, and after that, the President of the United States using his first pardon to come in and say that this man who a court of the United States found to be in lawless violation of the law of this country, to be, to be -- to be pardoned. Jill, this is -- you know, the pardon power sort of always lurked over Nixon and when it`s applied in this way, I think lawyers have some pretty strong feelings about it. What do you make of it?
BANKS: I am appalled and shocked. This is so much worse than anything I could have possibly envisioned. Let`s point out that President Nixon did not use his pardon power and that President Ford did Pardon Nixon and lost the election when he ran for re-election largely because he used that pardon power. And so despite all warnings to President Trump that there might be political consequences from this, what I would consider a lawless act, which is his pardoning someone who violated civil rights at every opportunity. This is -- every time I think that President Trump cannot go any lower or do anything worse, he surprises me and does.
HAYES: I believe we have our own Justice Correspondent, Pete Williams, NBC`s Pete Williams on the phone right now to give us maybe some little more information about this. What do -- what do we know about when this happened and why it happened?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS TELEVISION CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House hasn`t totally said yet what the thinking was behind it, but the President himself has laid it out pretty clearly, Chris. Of course, the President as pointed out, the President undoubtedly has the total constitutional authority to pardon anybody he likes. President can pardon people at any point after they`ve been charged with a crime, while the trial is going on after they`ve been convicted. The normal pattern though is for presidents to pardon people after the Justice Department makes a recommendation to a President. Typically the Justice Department won`t recommend anyone for a pardon until they`ve served at least five years of a sentence and have perhaps more significantly, expressed some remorse and of course, there`s none of that here.
Joe Arpaio has insisted that he never did anything wrong. He was convicted of criminal contempt after he was found in civil contempt for disobeying court orders to have his deputies stop the practice of stopping people on the street if they suspected they might be here illegally and they have nothing more than to go on than that. So there`s no show of remorse. Arpaio`s lawyers have said they would appeal the criminal contempt conviction and that process is still going on. But undoubtedly, the President had complete authority to do this, so this falls in the category of what you`ve just been talking about a political pardons rather than the normal pattern of following the advice of the Office of Pardon Attorney at the Justice Department. Nothing can be done about this. It`s the President`s complete authority to do it. There`s no undoing it. It`s simple that`s that.
HAYES: Pete, I want you to stay with us for a second. I believe we also have Richard Painter, who served in the White House Counsel Office under George W. Bush in the Ethics Department particularly and Richard, to Pete`s point about the normal process for this, coming through the Pardon Attorney, at the Department of Justice, what do you make of the President`s actions tonight?
RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I don`t see how this would have made it through any normal process. This Sheriff has been known for lawless acts for many years. I don`t think he would have lasted one week as a Sheriff in my home state of Minnesota. We were a law and order state, many places are. We favor law and order in the United States, but when a judge tells a sheriff to do something, the sheriff does it. That`s what law and order is all about. And if you`re in contempt of court and you`re a law enforcement official, you`re abusing your power, you should not be pardoned by the President of the United States.
And the message here is clear. The President likes Sheriff Joe because he was going after immigrants, he was going after minorities and that`s the clear message here. And I think it`s really reprehensible. And there is something can be done about it. We`ve got to think seriously about whether Donald Trump is fit to be President of the United States. I`ve been a republican for 30 years and we`ve got a lot of great people in the Republican Party who can serve honorably in the United States government and can serve as President of the United States, but this is just one more stick in the eye to minority community and those who`ve been victimized by the very few people in law enforcement like Sheriff Joe who choose to use their power abusively and choose to ignore the orders of the judiciary. And that`s -- that is lawlessness and that should not be tolerated in the United States.
HAYES: I want to just say the statements -- to Richard Painter`s point about this essentially being about the Sheriff`s performance in office where he was an extremely polarizing figure, particularly reviled by the Latino-Hispanic community there that organized to challenge him and have him voted out. The statement from the President of the United States is essentially a tribute to his career. It talks about his service in 1992, the problems facing the community pulled him out of retirement to return to law enforcement. Throughout his time, he continued his life`s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. He`s now 85 years old, after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he`s a worthy candidate for a Presidential Pardon. So this is essentially an affirmation of the man`s career by the President of the United States in choosing to grant his first Presidential Pardon.
Naveed, I want to -- I want to ask you a question, and we also have former Acting Director for the CIA with us, when we get to him in a moment but there`s an interesting subplot here, Naveed which is the information that the President gets. Infowars the notorious conspiracy site, was running a cover image saying that Michelle Obama is a man just a day ago. We know the President reads things from that site. He`s appeared with Alex Jones, the infamous conspiracy theorist who said Sandy Hook was a hoax. Alex Jones has been campaigning for Sheriff Joe. Joe Arpaio actually said that he thought that it was Alex Jones` campaign and his ability to get his issues in front of the President that had cued up the Sheriff Joe Arpaio pardon. What do you make of that as someone who had to deal in the world of intelligence and information that that kind of information is getting the President of the United States?
JAMALI: Look, I`ve said it a thousand times. I guess 1,001 won`t hurt but it`s the goal of intelligence to give analyzed information to a decision maker to do some unbiased fashion. And the reality is that our intelligence community does exactly that. They look at information and they present it to decision makers so that he or she can make that informed decision. When you`re looking at news sources, let alone Infowars, you`re clearly getting whatever the opposite of that is and look, it`s unfortunate, but the President has become someone who`s essentially sequestered in an ivory tower who has frankly made enemies with the intelligence community. And I think, you know, the article in about Pompeo leading the CIA`s Counterintelligence Unit is endemic of sort of the presidency and endemic of sort of what the intelligence community thinks about and how they`re going to think about the President. And this has got to drive how they present information.
And look, you know, you want someone who`s going to look truth to power, who`s going to look at this information and see a value to it, see if these are -- these are people that are -- have -- career people who have dedicated their lives to help a president make an informed decision. And if he`s cutting those people out and he`s using Alex Jones, I mean, I don`t know what to say other than that`s -- that is incredibly worrisome.
HAYES: I want to bring in former Acting Director of the CIA, MSNBC National Security Analyst John McLaughlin. We had booked you earlier today Mr. McLaughlin to talk about Mike Pompeo at the CIA and I do want to get to that, but you`ve been a fairly outspoken critic of this President, the way that he makes decisions, his interactions with the rest of the other branches of government. And so I`d like your reaction to the news we just have of this pardon of Joe Arpaio.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, I spend most of my life analyzing foreign countries and here I`ve found myself by virtue of the mess our own country is in, doing some analysis of the United States as well. And in this case, my sense here on these things the President has just done, both the transgender ban and the pardon of Joe Arpaio is that I think foolishly, he is working overtime to consolidate his base, which is increasingly narrow. These are both things that will appeal to the 35 million or whatever the current number is, people who are avidly in his corner. And one of the -- one of the regrettable things about this President is that he hasn`t learned to speak to the rest of the United States. In fact, I was thinking the other day, I can`t remember a time when -- and tell me if you think this is an overstatement when I can`t identify a single individual in our government who speaks for all of the American people.
HAYES: I think that`s right. I mean, I think it`s -- clearly, the president often talks about his voters. And today, Tom Bossert had an interesting comment. He`s, of course, the Homeland Security Adviser. He said the President is worried about everyone in his path, those who voted and didn`t vote for him, which is a distinction that is obviously front of mind for this President. I do want to -- since I have you here, I do want to ask you about the CIA right now. There was a Washington Post story about its leadership under Mike Pompeo, who is quite close to the President, viewed as quite a partisan Republican and there is concern that has leaked out at the agency about his closeness to the President and whether that will mean that the Russia investigation that`s happening under their agents will be manipulated in any way because he is directly overseeing it. What do you make of that reporting?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, first, I think it`s important to say that Mike Pompeo is a smart person, a person with a law degree, person who severed on the Oversight Committee and therefore understands the relationship between intelligence and oversight and of course has a distinguished military record. I think it`s important also to say that this is a director who has got an extraordinary set of circumstances and is probably walking a finer line than almost any previous director. Think about it for a moment. The CIA thinks of itself I think rightly, as your previous guest said, as kind the fact witness in the U.S. government. The group that comes in and says, look, you heard all the noise, here`s what`s really true about what`s going on. And yet, he`s serving a President who clearly believes in things that are demonstrably false and says them. Whether it`s you know, thousands of people cheering for 9/11 or the list is endless. Second, the CIA deals often in complexity. They`re the ones who will come in and say here`s what`s going on in the Middle East, here`s how to make sense of it, but they`re dealing with a person who thinks largely in 140 characters.
And finally, of course, the CIA will have an important role in This Russia investigation inevitably through their counterintelligence shop and there`s nothing the President hates more than this Russia investigation. In terms of how the CIA will do its business on that, I don`t have frankly, I don`t have great concerns. The people who work in counterintelligence and ultimately, the Director, has to be -- has to be aligned with the facts as they emerge here. It is not an agency that would I think operate in any other way in the face of demonstrable facts that emerge in this investigation.
HAYES: I want to ask Richard Painter a question if we still have Richard if you`re there.
PAINTER: Oh, yes.
HAYES: To what former Acting Director McLaughlin just said about sort of speaking to the base. As someone who worked in a White House that had to make decisions about when to release things at certain times. All of this coming, this Arpaio news coming right now as the country`s focus looking at a hurricane bearing down on Texas, what do you make of the timing of this decision, in terms of what it says about how much they want this to be covered?
PAINTER: Well, they obviously put things into the Friday evening news dump when they don`t want massive coverage of it. I guess the hurricane helps, but I don`t know what kind of base they`re playing to because after Charlottesville, the only base their playing to was neo-fascist alt-right and Ku Klux Klan. And that`s not the base of the Republican Party. Those kind of people we ignored in the Bush administration. We made it very clear that we condemn racism, almost probably all of that stuff that Trump`s playing to. It really is offensive and I`ve got to say back to Sheriff Joe, that he conducted himself in a lawless way over many years as sheriff down there and a lot of people didn`t like him. And he disobeyed the orders of a judge, that`s just lawlessness. I am very much concerned about this, but I`m not surprised because last November, December, Newt Gingrich was mouthing off in an interview with me with NPR about how President Trump could just pardon anybody he wanted to who engage in unethical behavior.
So, I guess police brutality, obstruction of justice, contempt of court, all of that is going to get pardoned if the President thinks you`re on his side. But I got to say, we`re talking about a smaller and smaller base when we`re windowing down to the alt-right and Ku Klux Klan. And that`s really very troubling for a President who is supposed to be leading the entire country. There are a loft Republicans and I`m one of them, who have very, very serious concerns about his mental stability and his ability to continue to lead.
HAYES: I should note, I figure, I feel about obligated for the (INAUDIBLE) to note that the President George W. Bush, we are talking about racism and homophobia, did favor a constitutional amendment that would have banned marriage equality. He did it back in 2004 --
PAINTER: Well, that was in the Republican platform. The homophobia -- the language that`s coming out of this administration, we`re not talking about policy. We`re talking about language that`s coming out of this administration, the attacks on people, right and left, we`re not discussing the policies that are implemented, but that what said about people, not policy positions. It is really very, very extreme and this is 2017, too. A lot has happened. The Supreme Court has ruled on gay rights and what the President is doing is clearly in many areas contrary to the law and I don`t think people are going back to George W. or anybody else and he`s going to be doing that. He`s going back to every previous president to try and justify what he`s doing and he`s picking the worst examples from Throughout American history. And he is even reaching into the Confederacy and I find it very, very troubling.
HAYES: I have Jill Wine-Banks still with us, and John McLaughlin, and Naveed Jamali. Jill, I want to ask you this as something that Richard mentioned. Do you think a signal is being sent with this? And I ask you for this reason. This is someone who`s political, he`s a very prominent political endorser of the President. He was an early endorser, he appealed to early rallies. He is a sort of heroic figure to the President`s base. He violated court orders and was convicted of criminal contempt and the President is now pardoning him. Is that sending a signal in your mind to other people particularly with the possibility of criminal conviction hanging over the heads of some of the people involved in the Russia investigation?
BANKS: It would except that I think by now, the President is aware that if he pardons these people, preemptively, that they can then be forced to testify against him. So if he pardons anyone, who knows anything about his role in obstruction of justice or in working with the Russians, they will no longer have a Fifth Amendment right if they`ve been pardoned. And they can, therefore, be compelled to testify. So he could I suppose then have them either refuse to testify, be held in contempt and do what he did with the Sheriff Arpaio, which is -- and then he`ll pardon them again. It is really so contrary to everything that our constitution stands for and is -- honestly, I maybe Pollyanna, but I don`t believe that his base is as vile as he is making it out to be.
Because the only thing he`s pandering to, I think, Richard is exactly right, is to the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, the total fascists that are rearing their head now. The issue with the transgender is exactly the same. I`ve recently served on a Pentagon Committee and had a lot of contact with generals. All of whom say nobody in my troops cares whether there is a transgender member. They -- one of them even told me that one of his best soldiers was a transgender soldier. They don`t care. So this is an unnecessary step. I watched as general consult of the Army the integration of women which was greeted with about as much enthusiasm at that time as possibly he is now feeling about integrating transgenders.
HAYES: It`s a good point.
BANKS: It went just splendidly. The women performed admirably and have now risen to very high rank. We now have a number of four-star, three- star, two-star generals who happen to have have been women. And the same will happen with transgenders if we allow it to happen and we should.
HAYES: John, there`s a question constantly here about the institutions holding in the rule of law and I think that`s both when we talk about the pardon, we talk about the Russian investigation writ-large and we talk about the firing of James Comey and with Mike Pompeo in the terms to which political interference or sort of untoward abilities to sort of manipulate processes and information will mean that the sort of basic institutional nature of the government falls apart.
I want to return to something you said, which you`re confident that that`s not the case here. Explain more about what you`ve seen in these first seven months that makes you confident about that.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I`m talking about the intelligence community here.
Although, I think in a way one could say as a columnist said not long ago that to a degree, an important degree, the rails are holding against a lot of the things that Trump has tried to do, whether it`s the congress or the intelligence community, but just to stick with the intelligence community for a moment, there`s nothing more sacred in the intelligence business than its objectivity, nothing more sacred than the belief they are there to look at events in the world dispassionately, almost clinically and come in and give their best assessment of things.
I believe they are doing that. I`m not in the room, but I know my former colleagues and I know that at any time in the past, when that has been challenged, when that has been in any way jeopardized, there is close to a rebellion within the ranks.
There were times in my past when I would say to someone who was pushing us to say something or do something that we believed to be incorrect or false, I would say to them if we were to do that, there would be a revolution in this building.
So, I think the assurance you can have, that I hope we can have, and I believe we can have, is that that ethic is very strong in the intelligence community.
In fact, when Trump was elected, I said to a number of people, look, the institutions that are going to be most important in our country at this time are the intelligence community, the judiciary, the media, the congress, and to a certain degree institutions beyond those. But those kind of core institutions that represent respect for fact, that represent rule of law, that represent separation of powers, those are the institutions that have to hold and although we could wish for more spine being shown in some parts of the Republican Party at this point, I think that broadly speaking they are holding.
HAYES: All right. In case -- I want to just take a moment to sort of reset for folks that may just be joining us, because there`s a tremendous amount happening as a massive category four hurricane you see there in the corner of your screen is just hours from making landfall in Texas with potentially catastrophic and life threatening flooding, President Trump has just pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the White House has just issued guidance to the Pentagon that bans transgender Americans from joining the military and the leaves the fate of those already serving up in the air.
All of that comes as we have significant new developments in the Russia investigation, including as we start at the top of the hour, exclusive reporting form NBC News that Mueller`s team is seeking grand jury testimony from former colleagues of Paul Manafort.
There are also multiple reports now, get this, just reporting this now, multiple reports, that the controversial deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka has just resigned from the White House.
This is an individual who has been controversial, to say the least, whose expertise is unclear, whose job is unclear, it was unclear whether he even had security clearance. He mostly appeared to go on television, a former Breitbart contributor Sebastian Gorka, appears to have resigned, at least multiple reports are saying that.
Right now the panel is still with me.
Naveed, I don`t know if you have strong feelings about Sebastian Gorka. I know many people do. He has -- he was -- he was a Scaramucci-like figure, has been a Scaramucci-like figure for different reasons, different politics than Scaramucci, but let`s just say a flamboyant in a certain way.
What do you make of that news?
JAMALI: I think it`s an insult to Scaramucci to compare him to Scaramucci.
I think -- look, first of all, it should be noted that there are actually two Gorkas in the White House. His wife is still very much in the administration and I am concerned that she stays on
Sebastian Gorka, from everything that -- you know from his PhD advisor, he`s not someone who is a terrorism expert. Nonetheless, he was involved in the White House. It`s unclear that he actually did anything, because as far as we can tell he never had a security clearance.
So, his ability to actually come in and influence policy while that might have been there on the TV side, I`m not so sure actually what he did. Clearly as Richard Painter and the other -- and Jill have said, you know, he was a polarizing figure in the sense that there`s an appeal to this fringe element of white supremacists and Nazis, and clearly Sebastian Gorka had an appeal to them. I mean, he was someone who was caught wearing if I recall correctly, a symbol that harked back to the sort of Hungarian Nazi connection.
And it`s just -- these are not the people that we need in the White House representing our government.
HAYES: Mr. McLaughlin, as someone who was talking about the sort of importance of information getting to the president, what did you make of what do you make of Sebastian Gorka being in the White House apparently advising on matters of national security?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, I saw him as kind of a disruptive force, almost in some respects not quite a comic figure, but you know a figure who -- let me put it this way, I think this is a victory for John Kelly and H.R. McCaster to have that particular point of view not front and center in the White House.
So, I think most of what he had to say was easily challenged and way over the top and often just flat wrong.
HAYES: I`m getting a sense, John, of how you communicate information to the presidents you served -- pointed, but diplomatic.
I want to back to -- do we have Charlie Sykes now, I believe with us?
We do. Charlie, how are you.
Crazy night for a Friday in August. We`re sort of juggling a bunch of different stories happening here. And we still want to keep our eye on that hurricane. We`re going to get to that in a moment, which is about to make landfall. And a lot of folks in the path of that. A lot to be worried about in that respect.
But I want to talk to you about these two bits of news, which seem related on some level, which is the Arpaio pardon and the Gorka resigning. Let`s start with the Arpaio pardon. What do you make of that? And what do you make of the timing of that and the issue on transgender guidance happening at the moment, the president at Camp David as a hurricane barrels down on Texas.
CHARLIE SYKES, CONSERVATIVE RADIO SHOW HOST: No, both those questions are interesting because clearly, when people talked about Steve Bannon leaving the White House, how it would change the presidency, obviously it has not changed the presidency fundamentally.
These are signals to the base, to the Bannon base, you know, that the president is still there. He`s still fighting for the things you care about. But, you know, to bury on a Friday night in August with a hurricane coming sends a different signal, obviously.
But look, the Joe Arpaio pardon is really an extraordinary thing. And you`ve touched on every aspect of this, including what a big victory this is for people like Alex Jones and people from the fever swamp, the message it sends about law enforcement.
And I have to say that I`m not quite as optimistic as some of the others on tonight about what it says about the ability of our institutions to push back against the overreach.
Look, this is about the rule of law and Donald Trump is testing the limits of presidential power and what he did tonight was to flex his muscles and to basically say look, there are people who are above the law. There are things for which we have no checks and balances. There is no going back on all of this. And I think that the people need to realize that this is a president who I think is completely capable of using this kind of pardon power extricate himself from the Russia investigation, so I think it` is legitimate to raise those questions that really what you`re having here is laying out the template. I am the president. I can do this. No one can stop me.
And this is kind of a revelation I think to a lot of Americans who think that our system of checks and balances actually is more than just a metaphor.
HAYES: Yeah, we should be clear here to reiterate something that Pete Williams said about the constitutional nature of this. This is -- it`s only for federal crimes, right so, the president can`t pardon state crimes. It`s a federal conviction in criminal court.
But in terms of any federal infraction in the past or preemptively things that might be discovered, the president has absolutely pardon power. And the only check on it is essentially political, right. And that, Charlie, is I think the key part here. I mean, the founders envisioned that, you know, you wouldn`t say pardon mass murders, because that would hurt you politically and you`re a political creature.
There`s a political calculation with every pardon and with one here seems fairly obvious.
SYKES: Yes. And, you know, when you talk about appealing to the base -- look, we have 35 percent of Americans who basically have decided whatever Donald Trump does they`re going back. This is what a cult of personally looks like. We are are in different political moment here.
So, you know, don`t assume that there is a huge part of the Trump base that would go, OK, we`re going to go along with all this other stuff. We`re going to swallow the fact that it turns out the Mexico paying for the wall has a complete scam, you know, and all of the other stuff about Charlottesville, but we`re going to draw the line at pardoning people who have broken the law. That is not going to be the red line for a lot of the Trump base.
And once again, it`s going to be interesting to see what will the reaction be of congressional Republicans to the transgender ban. Remember when he tweeted it out, he got a lot of push back, a lot of people in congress said this is a bad idea, this is discriminatory. This the wrong message.
What will the push back be from the law enforcement community and from congress to the Joe Arpaio. Which by the way is a pretty dramatic, it is pretty gross statement by the president on this Friday night.
HAYES: Yeah, I just want to be clear here, Jill, because I`d like you to respond to this. What Joe Arpaio was doing was essentially sending his officers to roam the streets and say demand the papers of anyone they viewed as possibly here in an undocumented, unauthorized fashion, which was essentially people with a skin color that they felt clued them off to that. And a court said you can`t do that. That`s a fundamental violation of our constitutional protections and then he kept doing it until the court had to convict him to get him to stop. And that`s what was pardoned tonight. That is a -- that is quite a message to send.
WINE-BANKS: That is a very, very big deal. And it is his crime really such a violation of her constitution and of what this country means that it is horrible that you would pardon it.
But it is exactly consistent with everything else that President Trump has done. He has no respect for the constitution. He acts in a way where he speaks when he`s speaking honestly to say exactly what he means. And again, I have to say I feel better having heard Richard Painter and Director McLaughlin.
I would add to the list of institutions McLaughlin has mentioned that I really have great faith ultimately in the American people. And although there are a certain percentage who will stick with Mr. Trump, who even half of all Republicans in a poll said they would agree to postpone the 2020 election if President Trump asked them to. That`s fascism. That`s no longer a democracy.
So, if you like him, vote for him. But don`t cancel the election. And...
HAYES: I should note that sometimes -- sometimes you can get people to say anything in polling just as a cautionary note about -- what American citizens are willing to assent to when asked.
If you`re just cruising around trying to figure out what`s going on on this Friday in August, our lower third gives you a sense of what is happening as that massive hurricane is hitting in Texas there, Sebastian Gorka has apparently resigned, a very controversial figure who a lot of people thought had no business working in the White House to begin with.
Joe Arpaio has been -- the first presidential pardon comes for a man who is criminally convicted to contempt of court for pursuing unconstitutional racial profiling.
There are new subpoenas being issued by Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation, the first time we have evidence of compelled testimony to bring witnesses before that investigation. All of that happening at this hour as that hurricane set to make landfall.
We also have Catherine Rampell, the great columnist here from The Washington Post.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, THE WASHINGTON POST: Slow news night.
HAYES: I have so say there was all this stuff about the Arpaio pardon going into the Phoenix rally, and there was all this reporting, and then Sarah Huckabee Sanders said no, we`re not going to do anything on it. And I think I came to believe that they weren`t going to do it. And then he sort of promised to do it. He sort of had a kind of almost Pontius Pilateesque moment before the crowd where he said, well, what should I do with Joe Arpaio. I still didn`t believe it was going to happen. Are you surprised that he did it?
RAMPELL: No. If there was any doubt in anyone`s mind that law and order was code for making it easier to harass people of color this is confirmation.
I would also point out that this is a direct attack on our constitution and on the independence of our federal judiciary. Remember, there was a lot of concern during the campaign about the fact that he attacked a judge of Mexican descent, Judge Curiel, right. This was an attack on the independence of a federal judiciary.
This is so much worse, because the crime that he is being pardoned for is effectively not following the constitution because a judge determined that what his officers were doing was harassment, was discrimination. He refused the court`s order. And this is Trump saying to the public, you know what, I agree, we shouldn`t listen to what judges say.
HAYES: Richard, what do you think lawyers in the White House should do about something like this?
PAINTER: Quit. I wouldn`t want to be a lawyer for this president.
And you know, Sheriff Joe was engaged in lawless law enforcement. 99 percent of cops in America, 99 percent of sheriffs do their job and risk their live every day for our safety. And we have a very small number of bad cops and bad sheriffs, very small number, less than 1 percent I`m sure and he`s one of them. And he should never have gotten that pardon. And he flaunted the orders of a court. That is lawlessness. And we should not tolerate that in the United States.
And now I see what`s going on here. To get rid of Sebastian Gorka was a real clown. I mean, he didn`t know anything about terrorism other than trying to condemn a billion Muslims of the world and call them all terrorists. In order to get rid of him, President Trump needs to throw a bone to the you know, the neo-fascist right. And that is not a basic 35 percent of American people, that`s a base that`s maybe 3.5 percent or 5 percent of American people.
Unfortunately, that`s a base that may make a difference in Republican primaries because so few people are showing up to vote in the primaries. And that`s what happened here. These are people that he used to defeat a whole bunch of other candidates. He never even got the majority of the votes in a lot of those primaries, just a plurality. He went in there and used these people to get the Republican nomination.
But this is a very small percentage of the American people who would sympathize with someone like Sheriff Joe and think he ought to get a pardon. And at least we got rid of Sebastian Gorka because showing up on the TV in front of the White House making a clown of himself all the time and didn`t know anything about what`s going on in the Middle East.
And then he was wearing the medal that Nazi sympathizer organization at the inaugural ball. And we`ve really got -- but there are a bunch more people in the White House who we need to get rid of. A lot of them came in through the so-called alt-right Breitbart affiliation. And they`ve got a lot more people to get rid of.
HAYES: Richard Painter, thank you so much for your time tonight. I understand that we have to let you go now.
I want to go to John McLaughlin because we do have now NBC News confirmation of those multiple reports we saw about Sebastian Gorka resigning. We assume he was pushed out. And this appears to be part of a larger effort that`s been undertaken by H.R. McMaster and it appears John Kelly to sort of exile and push out some of the more fringe elements who have been brought in, particularly the national security architecture inside the White House. Is that how you read it?
MCLAUGHLIN: I do, Chris.
You know, I sat in the Situation Room in what they call deputies meetings and principals meetings. These are the most serious meetings that take place in the foreign policy establishment in the United States. And there`s no place, no room in those meetings for ideology coming to the fore. They have to be focused on fact. They have to be conducted by people, in this case H.R. McMaster, John Kelly I hope is present, who have some experience in how the world works. What war is. What geopolitics amounts to in a practical sense. And so I think what`s going on here is an attempt to shape that process in a way that is more conventional, and by that I don`t mean conventional in the sense of not open to novel ideas and so forth, but more serious would be another way to put it.
And given the nature of the problems we`re dealing with in the world, as I mentioned earlier, these are all enormously complex things that are interconnected and you can`t deal with them in slogans, bumper stickers or tweets for that matter. In fact, it`s counterproductive to do so. So that`s how I read this, that there`s an effort underway by the adults in White House to be responsible and to make sure we are shepherding our national security decisions in an effective way. That`s my hope.
HAYES: Yeah, well, to the point of tweets. One more piece of news, I should mention, which is North Korea apparently launched some ballistic missile tests tonight. I believe three missiles. They appear to have all failed, at least early reports indicating that as opposed to some of the most -- the successes we`d seen with recent missile test launch.
I thought of that because when you said it can`t be handled in a tweet, I was taken back to just two weeks ago when we were watching nuclear brinksmanship via 140 characters.
On this swirling night of news on a Friday in August, I want to bring in I believe we have Raul Grijalva who, of course, is the Democratic congressman from Arizona who has tangled politically and publicly with Joe Arpaio for years and get your reaction to this pardon news.
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA, (D) ARIZONA: Well, you know, it`s -- there`s a level of sadness to it, because there was anticipated from his rally on Tuesday, Trump kind of indicated to the crowd, wink wink, nod nod, don`t worry about it. I`m going to take care of it. So, (inaudible) anticipated.
But the fact (inaudible) but not only is he pardoning Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court, racial profiling, selected persecution and prosecution of individuals, primarily Latinos in Maricopa County and in the state, he`s not just pardoning an individual because he deserves a pardon, if you follow the rule of law, what we`re doing here is pardoning his actions and his acts.
HAYES: Yeah, which is more than -- is a profound whistle to the extremists that support Trump, the people, many of them at the rallies, that see this kind of action as part of being presidential.
I think it`s bad for the country. It further divides, it further minimizes, it further marginalizes people just because of who they are and what the color of their skin is.
All right, Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona, thank you for joining us for that reaction. This late-breaking news.
Catherine, there was something you wanted to say.
RAMPELL: Oh, about Gorka. We should bear in mind that it`s not only that he didn`t add value in his role in the White House, because he didn`t actually know anything about Islam, he was actively creating harm. As you may recall, there was recently what appeared to be a terrorist attack on, I think it was a mosque or an Islamic Center, and he said that the White House couldn`t come out against it and call it an act of terrorism because it might be a fake hate crime.
HAYES: This is in Minnesota about a week and a half ago.
RAMPELL: It feels like it was so much longer ago. But yes, recently.
So he was clearly passing along that advice within the White House and projecting it out to the rest of the world. It`s not only that he didn`t know anything, but he was, you know, polluting the water, basically and encouraging people to second guess actual discrimination, actual acts of terrorism that were occurring.
HAYES: He was also -- the reporting indicated that part of the reason that he had managed to hang on as long as he was able to is because he went on TV a lot.
RAMPELL: That seemed to have been his only job.
HAYES: His only job. And, Charlie, I mean, this is to me in some ways one of the most disturbing commonalities across a range of issues is what comes into the president`s purview, where he gets his information from. It`s something that we`ve read articles saying that John Kelly is trying to change it. And then the president this morning starting his day by clearly watching cable news and tweeting it and we know that Joe Arpaio thinks that Alex Jones, of all people, was the one that essentially got his issues in front of him and reporting indicating that whatever you cut the president off from his son, Don Jr., is going to pass on the InfoWars article.
I mean, that seems to me a central challenge right now.
SYKES: It`s a central challenge and it`s an unsolvable dilemma. You have the adults in the room, And yes, they got rid of a goof like Sebastian Gorka, but this larger problem -- look, let`s talk about what`s happening tonight. We have the adults in the room, hopefully they`re handling the hurricane. But where were the adults when he issues the order on the transgender ban in the military? Where were the adults when he, you know, pardons Joe Arpaio and sending the dog whistle that he did there.
You know, where were they during the rally in Phoenix, the unhinged rant? This is the problem. You can change -- you can rearrange the deck chairs, but this presidency is about Donald Trump. And Donald Trump is going to get his news from Fox and Friends. He`s going to read the Drudge Report. He`s going to pick up the phone he`s going to talk to Sean Hannity, he`s going to read Alex Jones, and I don`t know how John Kelly is ever going to be able to stop that or change that.
HAYES: Yeah, that is a central problem.
I want to -- can we bring up the hurricane image again, because that -- the hour draws near for that hurricane to make landfall. And it`s worth just taking a moment to sort of reset that.
That is a category 4 hurricane that`s bearing down -- it`s going to make landfall a little northeast of Corpus Christi, which is good news. The first little bit of good news we`ve gotten about that hurricane. There`s a large evacuation area. I think it`s a dozen counties, if I`m not mistaken at this point. You see the wind speeds are at 130 miles an hour.
The forecasts that are happening for that hurricane right now are shocking in the amount of rain that`s going to dumped on that region of the country. We`re looking at up to 35 inches of rain.
In 2015, you had 11 inches of rain in Houston and it caused massive flooding. Houston looking to get two to three times that amount in the city of Houston over the next three or four days, because that storm is going to sit there.
So this is a very big storm. It`s the first category 4 to make landfall in 12 years, the first category 4 to hit Texas since 1961.
And there`s going to be a lot of folks, Catherine, who are going to have to do their jobs. And one of the things that -- one of the themes of the night, one of the things I`m talking about is the president`s information, and the ability of essentially the civil service to function independent of the dysfunction of the White House.
And that`s been -- that`s a big question this president has not faced a crisis or emergency so far, except those of his own making, really in the first period of this administration. Right now, everyone`s crossing their fingers that the civil servants up and down the bureaucracies, federal, can do what they need to do.
RAMPELL: Right. And it`s not that we`ve had such great history with FEMA even in previous administrations, right. I mean, when there are these big crises, it`s always difficult.
One underappreciated aspect I think of what could potentially happen is that Texas or that part of the country has the highest number of oil refineries in the country, right? And so there`s enormous potential for an environmental disaster, beyond the usual people being displaced from their homes and that sort of thing. And you have not -- you don`t have the people in place that you need at the EPA either. And again, it`s not as if Trump is committed particularly to putting resources there.
So there are a lot of things that can go wrong.
HAYES: John, let me ask you this, how much does the operational level of a government that`s operating, and obviously intelligence is different than, say, disaster response, but there`s a commonality in the sense that you have bureaucracies that function with 99 percent of them are nonpoliticals, right? There`s folks that are career folks who have jobs, and they go and they do them every day. And there`s some people in the sort of cap of the snowtop mountain who are there as appointees.
How much does it matter, I guess, ultimately? I mean, is it the case that the sort of functioning of that machinery can happen even if there`s chaos at the top?
MCLAUGHLIN: I think the short answer, Chris, is yes, mostly. It`s one reason why I hate the concept that came out of the Trump administration or was ballyhooed by it, of the deep state and the swamp, all of that.
Essentially they`re talking here about some of the most dedicated, committed people in the United States. Public servants get a really bad rap. And in most of these institutions that we call departments and agencies, there are below the political level, people who come in every day, are dedicated to what they`re doing, do it because they believe it`s meaningful, care deeply about their work. If you go to a federal retirement ceremony somewhere, probably the most frequent thing said is, I`m going to miss the people here because they care so deeply about what they do.
Now, of course, are there bureaucrats who are bureaucrats? Of course. But fundamentally, let me put this a different way, one of the things I worry about here is that in many ways, the Trump administration, the president in particular, has carried out a kind of assault on our institutions, whether it`s the judiciary or the media or some other institution. At the end of the day, having looked at democracies and authoritarian societies around the world, democracies succeed in large part because of the health and strength of their institutions. It`s the way countries are organized, it`s the way they function.
And our country, at that level, the institutional level, the government level, the level you asked about, functions rather well on a comparative basis, looking at the rest of the world.
So this doesn`t mean we shouldn`t worry about the president, and some of the things that he does that bother us, but there is a certain elasticity and resiliency in the government that we can be thankful for.
HAYES: Jill, what is your sense of -- given the news that we started this hour with as we come down to the final stretch here, of where -- how close are they on the Mueller side of this? Because, you know, you`ve got a midnight raid or early dawn raid of Paul Manafort. You`ve got business associates of him, part of that $60 million contract coming before a grand jury. It does seem like things are closing in on that respect.
WINE-BANKS: It`s hard to ever predict, even when you`re the prosecutor with all the knowledge, how fast you will be able to wrap up an investigation. And none of us knows what information they actually have.
Witnesses can come out of the grand jury and tell the public what they said, but no one in the prosecution for us can tell us, and no one has, so we don`t really know.
But clearly there is a focus on at least some of the connections to Russia and Ukraine, some of the financial wrongdoing. And we don`t know what documents they already have, so we don`t know what kind of questions will be asked of those witnesses. But it certainly is possible that they`re wrapping -- that they will wrap this up quickly.
HAYES: Jill Wine-Banks, Naveed Jamali, John McLaughlin, Charlie Sykes, and Catherine Rampell, many thanks to all of you for bearing with us through this somewhat insane news hour that we`ve just gone through.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now with Ari Melber.
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