All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 8/30/17 The Trump Moscow push

Guests: Josh Dawsey, Naveed Jamali, Jill Wine-Banks, Maxine Waters, Dan Rather

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 30, 2017

Guest: Josh Dawsey, Naveed Jamali, Jill Wine-Banks, Maxine Waters, Dan Rather

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Noah, Kaitlin, Philip, thank you. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don`t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me?

HAYES: President Trump on teleprompter and off his populist message.

TRUMP: We have no choice. We must lower our taxes.

HAYES: Tonight the ever shrinking power of this Presidency with Dan Rather, Maxine Waters and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson.

Then, as the flood waters and death toll rises in Texas, Congress considers cutting disaster funding. Plus new developments on the Russia investigation and what Trump voters think about their pick for President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why doesn`t he just quit that tweeting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just needs to learn to mind his Ps and Qs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He couldn`t be any worse at achieving goals in politics.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We have some breaking news literally just published a few minutes ago. We had a show that we`re going to give you and now we`re giving you this because I think this is extremely significant. It`s an article in the Politico that just published that says that Robert Mueller whose of course is the Special Counsel who`s investigating the Russia -- leading up the Russia investigation is working with Eric Schneiderman who is the Attorney General of the State of New York. And the significance of that as he looks at Paul Manafort`s finances is that New York State crimes would not be covered by a Presidential Pardon. Think about that for a second. To explain more on the phone with me now, the Reporter who broke the story for Politico, Josh Dawsey. Josh, what have you learned?

JOSH DAWSEY, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (via telephone): Sure. So Bob Mueller and Eric Schneiderman have worked together in recent weeks, maybe a couple months or so sharing evidence. Both looking at what their subpoenas have on unearthed, both of their teams talking to each other at length and both of them escalating the strategy on Paul Manafort, the former Campaign Chairman of the Trump Campaign and you know, a very prominent and loyal backer of the President. It`s unclear right now whether that means state charges will be filed instead of federal charges but as you noted earlier on air, the President can pardon for federal crimes, he cannot pardon for state crimes. So if let`s say, Eric Schneiderman who (INAUDIBLE) eventually brought charges against Paul Manafort, the President would be more hand tied than he would be in a federal case.

HAYES: So, I want to just make this very clear for folks. What this -- the subtext here, what`s implicit in this and perhaps explicit in your reporting is strategizing on the part of Mueller and Schneiderman about the possibility down the road of Presidential Pardons and the fact, the possibility of a future pardon will likely be affecting Manafort`s decision about whether he cooperates with investigators or not.

DAWSEY: I want to be clear with your viewers, we don`t know for exact -- for sure that the two of them have talked about pardon and the strategy. We do know earlier this summer that Bob Mueller approached Erics Schneiderman. The two of them have been working in concert. We know that people close to Manafort say that Mueller has been pressuring him to cooperate. You know, (INAUDIBLE) son in law, they showed up for a raid at his house, has taken pretty aggressive tactics to try to get him to cooperate.

And we know that the President just used a Presidential Pardon on Joe Arpaio and he stated on Twitter that you know, he would be -- he would consider asserting that Presidential Pardon and he said, no one can question that. He said, he (INAUDIBLE) plans at a time but no one can question that power. So a lot of it is more writing on the wall and key leaks to you on why the cooperation is happening now and the strategy between the two men who have totally different investigations but in some way, they may dovetail here in the upcoming weeks and months.

HAYES: And in terms of Manafort and you mentioned this before, I mean, the amount of pressure he`s under is enormous. FBI predawn raid on his house, his former business associates including his former attorney we just learned today being subpoenaed to appear before a Grand Jury. They are putting the screws to him unquestionably, right?

DAWSEY: Certainly. 100 percent. That has accelerated in recent weeks. When he starts talking to someone`s family members and some members of the house at 6:00 a.m., that`s inevitably a sign that pressure is escalating. It seems that both of the men, Eric Schneiderman and Bob Mueller have obtained significant evidence on Paul Manafort. Again, I want to be clear, we don`t know if it`s enough evidence to bring charges, you know, that`s obviously not pre-ordained. But both them have significant reams of evidence. Both of them have subpoenaed his business partners, have looked into his tax records, have, you know, dug into his family history and offshore accounts.

Both of them have reams of evidence on Paul Manafort and by cooperating and joining forces, A, you know, they`re showing each other if the evidence we have is the evidence you have. The prosecutors are talking about who to approach, how to approach them, and it seems inevitable that if President Trump for some reason pardon Paul Manafort proactively or Bob Mueller and his team became convinced that you know, President Trump was going to pardon them, that a case could you know, likely proceed in state court.

HAYES: One more thing on this because it seems like important context. You referred to Eric Schneiderman, of course, he`s a Democrat, he`s the Attorney General in the State of New York. He has brought cases if I`m not mistaken against Donald Trump in the past. I think Trump University was in his cross hairs.

DAWSEY: With a $25 million settlement.

HAYES: That $25 million settlement came out of the case that Schneiderman brought. And give us a context for the way that Donald Trump feels about Eric Schneiderman because all I could think of when I wrote your article ten minutes ago was when the President reads this, he`s going to flip his lid.

DAWSEY: Sure, he`s attacked president -- I mean, President Trump has attacked Eric Schneiderman (INAUDIBLE), calling him a hack, a lightweight on Twitter, on television. He has attacked him and a bunch more, almost at anyone, (INAUDIBLE) the New York businessman. He was in Eric Schneiderman`s dominion and Eric Schneiderman was a perennial thorn in his side particularly on the Trump University case. The President had you know, refused to settle, had been deposed, had all his associates and other people in the company, executives had been subpoenaed and then he won the Presidency. And then he -- after he won`t the Presidency, I think nine days actually, they settled for $25 million which goes against the core rule of Donald Trump is don`t settle cases.

Once you settled, that everyone will get you going to settle in the future. So they keep bringing cases against you. So it was really a pretty monumental settlement for the President-elect ten days afterward to have to give a $25million settlement for potential fraud charges at his university. So the two men have a very checkered past, to say the least. They`ve bickered publicly. Schneiderman has many disdain known for the President`s policies, has sued the President over some of his immigration rules. You know, it`s not two people who have any glove off for each other, to say the least.

HAYES: All right, Josh Dawsey, that is a really great reporting on your part. It makes things much clearer than they have been which isn`t always the case as this story goes forward. So thank you so much and thanks for making time.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: That news that Josh has broke comes amid the other big news in the ongoing Trump-Russia story this week which is a revelation that President Trump`s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, sent an e-mail to Vladimir Putin`s Kremlin seeking help on a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow while Trump was running for President. Today Kremlin has confirmed it received that e-mail from Cohen although it says it did not respond. Now Cohen says, he discussed the Trump Tower deal with Trump himself on three separate occasions and that Trump signed a letter of intent for the development with the Russian developer. And In 2015, as Trump was running for President and too many people oddly praising Putin all the time, Trump associate Felix Sater was corresponding with Cohen about that Trump Tower in Moscow deal the two men working on.

Some of their e-mails have become public including the one that reads, "Buddy, our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin`s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process." Washington Post reports that Sater also wrote to Cohen something to the effect of, "Can you believe two guys from Brooklyn are going to elect a President," according to briefed on the e-mail exchange. Now, remember, we only have a very, very small portion of the e-mails between Sater and Cohen so there must be some missing context here, right? I mean, why would two guys from Brooklyn think that landing a building deal in Moscow for Trump would have anything to do with getting him elected for President unless there was lot more going on. We already know of course that Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials met with a Kremlin lawyer who had promised Russian government dirt on Hillary Clinton.

And tonight, Financial Times is reporting in another development in this case that the lobbyist who was at that meeting Rinat Akhmetshin is a former Soviet Army officer, who was at the meeting with Don Junior and others has now given evidence under oath before a Grand Jury in the investigation. For a look at the significance of all these developments and a few more, I`m joined by Naveed Jamali who works as a Double Agent from the FBI against Russian military intelligence and Jill Wine-Banks who was one of the Prosecutors during the Watergate scandal.

And before we get to those, I want to -- I want to go back Josh`s story and talk about that with you, Jill, for a moment. I -- we do not know for certain, I should be clear that what Schneiderman and Mueller are gaming out is how to apply pressure to Manafort in a way that would be essentially immune from the dangle of a presidential pardon. But watching this story, that has to be figuring in the thinking of everyone right now and as a -- as a former Watergate Prosecutor, I imagine you thought of that as well.

JILL WINE-BANKS, WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I think it`s a brilliant idea. I think it absolutely could work because I believe that the abuse of the pardon power could actually amount to an obstruction of justice. And I think the promise of a future pardon for anybody who has been involved in any wrongdoing and then the pardon of Joe Arpaio which sends the message to them, and don`t worry, even though you lose your fifth amendment privilege, when I pardon you, you don`t have to cooperate. You can be in contempt of court and I`ll pardon that too. So I think that the only way to avoid the abuse of his pardon power is to bring state charges. So maybe he would come down and he wouldn`t do it but I think that this is wonderful development.

HAYES: Naveed, going back to the sort of developing story on both the meeting and on the Trump Tower, I want to start on the Trump tower facts that we`ve learned. From your experience, is it at all plausible, likely possible that interactions happening between Felix Sater or Michael Cohen and whoever is on the other side in Russia on the development deal are not being reported back to folks with connections to the Kremlin or the Russian intelligence?

NAVEED JAMALI, FORMER FBI DOUBLE AGENT: No, the only way I can -- I can describe this is this was probably a swipe right for Russian intelligence. This was a clear indicator to Russian intelligence -- look, it`s the same thing with the statement with -- that Peskov made clear are the fact that Peskov said he didn`t respond which factually maybe true. But I`m sure that he walked it over to Moscow center and the Russia intelligence was all over this. So clearly what this was signal to Russia is that the Trump orbit is open for business and they`re interested in a dialogue. And that is all you need to start with Russian intelligence, to start making these entries into this -- into that orbit.

HAYES: You know, there`s that -- there`s that -- what we have established so far based on the facts we know is this sort of dancing around each other, right? So we`ve got -- we`ve got the Trump folks reaching out to Russia in different avenues. First, we have them on the -- on the Trump Tower deal which has persisted longer than we previously knew. We`ve got Felix Sater speculating that this will get our guy elected President. I want to talk about that in a second. Rinat Akhmetshin testified before the Grand Jury. I guess the question is, is it possible that all the circling never went anywhere other than the circling?

JAMALI: You know, no. I think that -- I think it did go somewhere. I just think that what -- where it went was on the Russian intelligence side and not -- you know, not this traditional you know, MFA, the sort of the equivalent of the State Department. I think that you know in the case of the testimony, the slam dunk in front of the Grand Jury would have been if anyone who was in the meeting with Don Junior`s would come out and say not so much what they said to Don Junior but in fact admit that they were tasked directly by the Kremlin.

See, these are -- just because they`re Russian nationals doesn`t mean that they`re actual Russian government officials. It could have been a slam dunk in tying this to a Kremlin operation. I do think that there is a link there. Look, Chris, at the end of the day, one of the last things President Obama did before he left office was to throw out 35 Russian spies and seize two intelligence compounds in the United States. I don`t think that that was coincidence. I am sure there`s a connection here, we just don`t know about it publicly yet.

HAYES: All right, Jill, I want to ask you about another development that`s happened. We now have reporting about subpoenas that have been issued for former Manafort associates. And one of whom is someone he worked with and one of whom is his former attorney, which I`m not a lawyer but I was surprised to see that. My sense is that that is rare. What do you make of a subpoena for his former attorney?

BANKS: Before I answer that, can I just add to what Naveed said --

HAYES: Please.

BANKS: - which is when you combine with all the lies and all of the misleading statements and all of the nondisclosure of meetings with the Russians, when you take Donald Trump`s statements, I have no interests in Russia, I have no dealings there, I have no business there, nothing pending, it makes a difference in how you interpret what`s going on now. It makes it look guilty. But to your question about Manafort`s lawyer, it is highly unusual. Attorney-client privilege is sacrosanct privilege. However, there are at least a few exceptions that could explain it. One, the lawyer could have been acting not as a lawyer but as a business adviser, much as Michael Cohen frequently did.

And as a business adviser, you don`t have attorney-client privilege. It could be that they were plotting a crime and they`re both guilty and that wouldn`t be covered. It could also be that a third person was in the room who doesn`t share the privilege and that voids the privilege. So there are some exceptions to the privilege that could explain why they`re going after the lawyer.

HAYES: All right, Naveed Jamali and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you both for being with me tonight. And joining me now, I have Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters who has been quite outspoken about the Russia investigation. What do you make of the latest developments?

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I am not at all surprised. I have always anticipated that the dots would be connected, that certainly there was collusion and certainly that all of those allies around this President which I dubbed the Kremlin clan have been in some way connected with Putin and or the Kremlin and it`s all about money. And I said a long time ago, follow the money, follow Manafort. And I hope that our Special Counsel, Mr. Mueller will get what was happening with Manafort and the Cyprus Bank. I think there`s big money laundering that is going on. I think it passed through that bank, and I do believe that Mueller`s on the right track.

And I like the idea that he is talking with Schneiderman and that they`re figuring out some things I don`t know what they are. But this President who in your face said, "You mess with me, anybody that you try to indict or you try to criminalize, I`m going to pardon them and I`ll show you just as I`ve done with Joe Arpaio". So I like the idea that Mueller is not frightened, he`s not backing up, he is going to do his job, I`m excited.

HAYES: You think -- you think -- I just want to be clear when you say that he said in your face, you mean, your point is that you felt that what he was communicating with the Arpaio pardon was that, that essentially he would be there to pardon people that might find themselves in the teeth of a criminal investigation?

WATERS: Yes, that is -- that is correctly stated that I do believe it was a signal. I don`t know what he said, how he said it or what he said, but I do believe he was sending a signal.

HAYES: Do you anticipate there`s one Republican Member of Congress who`s introduced -- or going to introduce legislation to restrict the Mueller investigation, the funding for it to six months, do you think we will see increased pressure from your colleagues across the aisle Republicans in Congress, as there appear to be more developments in the Mueller investigation to shut it down?

WATERS: Well, I don`t know but I think that`s outrageous and ridiculous and he will not get away with it. As a matter of fact, I think that Mueller has moved far enough now where they should be shaking in their boots. And to come through with legislation that would limit Mueller`s ability to do his job is not going to be taken lightly. And I think that not only are Democrats going to rise up against that, but I think some Republicans will finally, finally get the guts and the nerves to resist that.

HAYES: Alright, Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, thank you as always.

WATERS: You`re welcome.

HAYES: Ok, this is not the time to go away, the Great Dan Rather has been sitting here with me throughout this breaking news, will join us next, along with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson on the diminishing Trump, President - - Presidential power after this two-minute break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: As the August Recess draws to a close and Congress prepares to come back to Washington next week, the President of the United States is as ubiquitous as ever, but he also has less Political Capital than ever to spend down on what`s left of his agenda. Today he traveled to Springfield, Missouri to talk about taxes. But this was the split screen on TV, juxtaposing the President`s remarks with the images of Harvey`s continued devastating impact from the Golf Coast.

Today the storm maybe third landfall in Louisiana just over the Texas border as more cities and towns in Southeast Texas faced catastrophic flooding from what is already the biggest rain storm in the history of the Continental U.S. After visiting Texas yesterday where he was briefed on relief efforts but did not meet with victims of the storm, today the President acknowledged the personal toll Harvey has taken. But the focus of his speech which he read due to (INAUDIBLE) from a teleprompter was he so-called Tax Reform, a big push to reset a White House agenda following the collapse of Health Care and the failure, the wrack-up of any Major Legislative Achievements. Now, unlike the Health Care fight this time, the President would be at the center of the battle hitting the road to sell the GOP Tax Plan to the American people.

But there`s just one problem, they don`t have a tax plan. For weeks, a group of Congressional Leaders and Administration Officials have been meeting to try and come up with a blueprint that as one Tax Analyst told Bloomberg this week, "They`re nowhere. They`re just nowhere." Without an actual plan to sell, the President was reduced to reading off a series of platitudes re-hashing basically the last 30 years of Republican supplies side economics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: We would like to bring our Business Tax Rate down to 15% which would make our Tax Rate lower than most countries. We believe that ordinary Americans know better than Washington, how to spend their own money, and we want to help them take home as much of their money as possible.

When businesses compete for labor, your wages will go up. Lower taxes on American business means higher wages for American workers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The White House had sought to frame the speech as seizing the populist mantle but at least one Trump super fan wasn`t buying it. Ann Coulter tweeted, "WTF. Why is Donald Trump back to tax cuts? His election was not about tax cuts. Has he been talking to Speaker Ryan again?" And then, "Oh stop pretending this is about letting families keep more of their money, this is for Wall Street."

Now, the President`s push for a tax overhaul such as this comes at a time when his influence on Capitol Hill and over his own branch of the government is at a low point. Thanks in large part to the Health Care debacle and the fallout from Charlottesville, the President remains his Omni-presidents ever sucking abuse cover and attention but his actual ability to impose his will seems notably diminish. And as not just the business leaders have abandoned him or that Republican lawmakers have begun to question his fitness for office, increasingly Senior Members of his own administration are contradicting, even overruling the President of the United States.

First, it was Economic Adviser Gary Cohn who said last week the administration has to do a better job condemning White Nationalists and implicit criticism of the President`s Charlottesville response. Then it was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with a stunning assessment of the President`s moral leadership.

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REX TILLERSON, U.S, SECRETARY OF STATE: I don`t believe anyone doubts the American people`s values or the commitment of the American Government or the Government`s Agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the President`s values?

TILLERSON: Well the President speaks for himself, Chris.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Today it was Defense Secretary James Mattis` turn after the latest missile test by North Korea which crossed through Japanese air space, the President tweeted this morning, "The U.S. has been talking to North Korea and paying them extortion money for 25 years. Talking is not the answer." Asked about that comment today on a visit to South Korea, Mattis shot it down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President this morning tweeted that talking isn`t the answer. Are we out of diplomatic solutions for North Korea?

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: No, we`re never out of diplomatic solutions, we continue to work together and the Minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nation, our population and our interests which is what we are here to discuss today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Former CBS Evening News Anchor Dan Rather joins me now. He`s a host of AXS TV`s The Big Interview and a Houston native. We should note, he knows a thing or two about covering hurricanes. He was there for Hurricane Carla in 1961 from Texas. Always an honor to have you here, thank you for coming.

DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Thank you Chris, and we`re going to talk about a lot of things but I`m making clear, very much on my mind and in my heart is what`s happening in Houston and Southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana.

HAYES: It has been, I have to say, one of the things that`s been most remarkable is the just the sort of (INAUDIBLE) flotilla of people that have used every implement of their disposal from jet skis, to small boats to big boats to kayaks to human chains to go out and it really does look like they`ve been doing most of the rescuing. It has essentially been the people of Houston.

RATHER: Well, this is very much a Texas thing, not that it hasn`t been done elsewhere in the country. The thing that you`ve seen on the television screen hour after hour are examples of you know, duty, honor, bravery, police officer perish trying to get to work but drown. And this has been, I think, the optics out of Houston with the Mayor, Mayor Turner, and the Police Chief Art Acevedo, has been about that duty, honor, bravery.

And when President Trump came, the question is whether he could pick up on that, communicate that in some way. Now, I`m not here to judge whether he did or didn`t. Each person will have to judge for themselves. But I think there`s a very serious case to be made that although the President went, give him credit for that, didn`t make any big mistakes, but he sort of came and went and ran the risk is seeming irrelevant.

And this is part of the problem he`s having with his Presidency. It`s whether he is all show and no go or as they would say in Texas, all hat and no cattle because he can`t deliver. And to the most important powers of the Presidency are the power to persuade and the power to invoke fear. And that`s been shrinking with the early stages of the Trump Presidency.

HAYES: You know, that is exactly I think what we saw on display in two ways today both on the tax speech and what we saw with Mattis. On that Mattis moment, I mean, here you have, you know, the chain of command is clear. The Commander-in-Chief who is the democratically elected civilian control of the U.S. Armed Forces and the person he appoints as his civilian head who is a former General. And if there`s a question of who controls, whose policy controls? It`s the President of the United States. And here you have a situation where the President says one thing and the Secretary of Defense says, no, he won`t. Just out we open to everyone.

RATHER: And as he showed, his Secretary of State on Sunday said I`m not associating myself, in effect he said, I`m not associating myself with what he said in Charlottesville.

HAYES: Have you ever seen that?

RATHER: No, I have not seen it and neither has anybody else. This is unique in so much with the Trump Presidency. First of all, we have never had an incoming President, first-term President get off to such a chaotic, unsteady start as this. You know, the general pattern is the President is most popular when he first comes into office, and then in the nature of things, his popularity declines.

But what you`re seeing with President Trump and I think it`s very clear Chris, it`s not a Democrat or Republican assessment, it`s not a biased assessment, it`s just looking at what`s happening here. Donald Trump is afraid, he`s trying to exude power and strength (INAUDIBLE). He`s afraid of something that Mueller and the prosecutors are going to find out.

And what you`re seeing time after time is a President who is within himself seized with fear. And that`s going to be you know, a political hurricane is out there at sea for him, we`ll call it Hurricane Vladimir if you will. The whole Russian thing, it`s still pretty far out at sea, but each day -- and tonight we saw it again with the two things you were reporting from Politico and the Financial Times.

This hurricane, this political hurricane, it`s still far out at sea is building in intensity. When we say we`ll it was category -- to start, it`s a category one, it`s gone to category two. It`s approaching category four, but I want to stretch my metaphor too far. But that`s what`s on Donald Trump`s mind, and he can be talking tax reform in a broad general way, (INAUDIBLE). But I do think it`s beginning to soak in on the public at large, including many people who supported Donald Trump that what he`s basically talking about, what he -- President trump is talking about, is a tax cut for people who make more than $250,000 a year, a substantial tax cut for them. For everybody else, not so much, that`s going to be a very tough sell, it may even be dead on arrival.

HAYES: Well, and to the question of whether it is dead on arrival, a big part of that is, can -- you know, to go back to what you said before about sort of moral legislation, right, and the degree that which you can sort of sell things persuading people or make people fear you. That`s also what you have on Capitol Hill, right?

RATHER: Right.

HAYES: You can, I mean, a lot of presidents I just -- are very persuasive people. You know, I`ve been in the room with Barack Obama on issues where I disagreed and thought he was wrong and you know, he gets in front of you and makes his case and you come away like (INAUDIBLE), he`s pretty persuasive. The question is can this President do that?

RATHER: Well, that is the question. You put your finger on something. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, they could talk of dog off a meat wagon if they get one-on-one in a room with you.

HAYES: Right.

RATHER: And they demonstrated that. Ronald Reagan did a lot of business with the Democratic Congress. Tip O`Neal being Speaker of the House did a lot of business.

HAYES: The last big tax reform, `86.

RATHER: Bill Clinton triangulated, if you will, on welfare reform. Time after time real leaders in the presidency finds a way to either persuade or put the fear in you. Lyndon Johnson was excellent of working you both ways, complimenting you, persuading you, "come on, you guys can do this Senator for me." And then saying, "by the way, if you don`t, there`ll be hell to pay." Well, Donald Trump has tried that any number of times but it rings hollow with him. I will say that the predicting road is littered with carcasses of people who underestimated Donald Trump. And what he`s trying to do now, what he`s trying to do today in Missouri, he`s trying to frame the narrative for the fall for post-Labor Day. Given what`s happened in Houston, Southeast Texas and Missouri -- and Louisiana and Mississippi, he`s going to have a very difficult time to do that.

HAYES: That is a great point because one of the things that was so stark today, that was on the split screen, the President is talking about tax reform and here`s what`s happening and they`re going to have a huge legislative list to get -- to get relief to those folks as soon as they get back there.

RATHER: This is the very important point, Congress comes back and the number one thing in Congress is not going to be tax reform. They`ll see it as important. But the number one thing is going to be $100 billion --

HAYES: Yes, pass this thing and they certainly can`t say, we`ll get to that.

RATHER: Well, and what is it going to look like for a congressman who has to run in his district next year or a senator who has to run two years past that to say on the one hand we have to come up with $100 billion to pay for helping Houston. And by the way, we want to give a tax cut to anybody who makes more than $250,000 a year. Really tough sell.

HAYES: That`s a really good point. Dan Rather, as always, thanks for your insight.

RATHER: Thank you, Chris. Good to be with you.

HAYES: Let`s go now to Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired U.S. army colonel.

That moment with James Mattis, I mean, the president says talking is not the solution, which again implicitly says that military force is with a, you know, a nuclear power. And Mattis just says what I think is correct, and I think most people would view is correct, no, that`s not true.

But that is a remarkable rebuke to the commander-in-chief.

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): It is. Let me say first, Chris, that I want to identify with Dan`s comments about Houston, the sad situation there, and yet the heroic situation there. I went to high school and junior high in Houston so - and I remember Dan`s reporting and I remember that hurricane that he referred to. So my heart goes out to Houstonians and to Texans.

You`ve just put your finger on what is happening across the cabinet most dramatically with Tillerson and Mattis, of course, and that is that they`re not going to follow the guidance that comes from this president which is not in accordance with good ethics, good morality or legal; or in some cases, and maybe even this is more important, stupid.

So, we`re going to see -- we`re either seeing a strategy of mutt and Jeff (ph), which I very much doubt, or we`re seeing develop some real opposition from some of the principal members of his cabinet, and that`s going to make this president even more ineffective.

Let me say something else, too. The most important element of presidential power is the bully pulpit. And what Donald Trump has done is murder that power. He has no capacity whatsoever to use the bully pulpit. We`ve seen that repeatedly. And he has eliminated at least 50 percent or more of his presidential power by being so inept at using that bully pulpit.

HAYES: Do you find it as someone who served in an administration, I think in several actually, do you find it unnerving this idea that the president says things and then the head of the Pentagon, or the head of the state essentially ignores them.

WILKERSON: It is unnerving. It`s unnerving particularly with regard to foreign policy because it means our friends, allies and even our enemies in the world are just utterly puzzled at what`s going on in the United States.

But in the sense of my citizenship in this republic, I`m encouraged by the fact that we do have some talent and some brains and some strategic thinking and key cabinet posts, and they`re not going to sit down and take this president`s ballyhoo and tweeting as orders and so forth, they`re going to do what`s best for the country.

Now, we might wind up having a constitutional crises because of that, but I`ll buy that before I`ll buy everybody just toadying (ph) up to a president who doesn`t know what he`s doing and carrying out his orders irrespective of the rectitude of those orders.

HAYES: What do you mean by that, the constitutional crises?

WILKERSON: Well, we`re looking at a possibility here where you might have key members of this cabinet actually going over to the congress and saying things sort of soto voci (ph) if you will, under the table as it were, and manufacturing a crisis that presents the president and the congress in opposition to one another.

And unless we have sufficient reason to develop articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives, the only real avenue the constitution gives us, that can get dangerous.

HAYES: All right, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, it`s always a great pleasure to have you on. Thank you very much.

WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Chris.

HAYES: Ahead, disappointed and let down, what some reluctant Trump voters are saying about the president seven months in. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Harvey has made landfall a third time, flooding a shelter in Port Arthur, Texas as people retreat to bleachers to try to stay dry. In nearby Beaumont, Texas, which saw over five inches of rain today on top of 26 inches yesterday, helicopters are out rescuing entire families.

At the same time, heavily flooded chemical plant in Crosby, Texas could catch fire or even explode in the next few days, worth keeping our eyes on here. The CEO telling reporters the company has, quote, no way to prevent it.

All this as battle lines are being drawn over how to pay for recovery. Texas Governor Greg Abbott today said the tab will likely surpass that of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R) TEXAS: My recollection is that the Katrina funding was well over $100 billion. I want to say it was over $125 billion. And so if we go on a parallel standard, it should be far in excess of that amount.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: But while President Donald Trump is promising to help Texas rebuild, the AP reports the federal flood insurance program covers even fewer homes in the area than it did five years ago. The AP also reports that House Republicans are looking to slash nearly $1 billion from FEMA`s general disaster relief account in order to finance the wall with Mexico.

Politico`s Michael Grunwald literally wrote the book on the perils of flooding in coastal communities. And he joins me now to examine what happens next.

Let`s start on that first thing, the president`s budget I believe it called for these cuts to FEMA and the disaster fund. The idea now is that it was going to pay for the wall. Can they really come back to congress and do that?

MICHAEL GRUNWALD, AUTHOR: Probably not. I mean, not to defend them too hard, it`s a question of values. But their budget cut just about everything except for defense and border security. So, you know, if there was another Ebola crisis, people would be talking about their cuts to public health. If that chemical plant you mentioned explodes, people will talk about their cuts to the EPA or the Labor Department.

Right now it`s only natural that they`re talking about cuts to FEMA and the Coast Guard because they really did try to cut just about everything.

HAYES: One of the things that I think has played a role here and that is going to be a huge fight that people maybe don`t quite see coming is the national flood insurance program, and that might sound obscure and it might sound wonky, but it is really important and in some ways has already in a quite literal way paved the way for what we saw in Houston. You wrote a great piece about this.

How has that program brought us to the point where we are seeing the worst floods ever, seven of the eight I think worst floods ever just in the last 20 years?

GRUNWALD: Yeah, and look, storms are natural events, but floods are almost always man made disasters, because when the waters rise it doesn`t matter if there aren`t people and stuff in the way. And what the flood insurance program has done is essentially made it really cheap to build in harm`s way.

You know, there are supposed to be standards to prevent new construction in the 100-year flood zone, to require you to elevate or relocate if you get really substantial from a flood. But back in 1998, they released a report called higher ground where they talked about repetitive flood losses. And there was one home that had flooded 16 times in 18 years under the program. And of course, that home was in Houston which was the national capital of repetitive losses.

And we`ve seen it again with a tropical storm in 2001 that caused $5 billion of damage in Houston, again in 2015, 2016 and now 2017. They call them flood plains because it`s plain that they flood. And if you make it cheap to build there, people are going to build.

HAYES: I just want to be clear, what we are doing right now as national policy is have the federal government subsidizes and incentivizes people to build in areas that are likely to flood. It then is a terrible pain, and I`ve interviewed people after Sandy and other places, to try to actually get the reimbursement, because dealing with flood insurance is terrible.

But we`re basically incentivizing people to build in floods and now they`re going to go back to congress and try to reform this program as people are looking around in Houston only 15 percent of people have flood insurance saying I`m screwed.

GRUNWALD: Right. Well, partly because they`re supposed to have these 100- year flood maps where anybody who lives in a place that`s likely to get flooded once every 100 years or has a 1 percent chance of getting flooded in any particular year is supposed to have flood insurance in order to get a mortgage. But Houston has had three 500-year floods in the last three years, which of course would be a 1 in 2 million chance if it was a coincident.

But it`s not a coincidence. You build in the flood plain, you`re paving over wetlands and prairies that used to soak up the water, and instead you`re creating highways and driveways that toss more water into the bayous.

You`re increasing the floods and you have more people and businesses in harm`s way. You`re increasing the cost, and that`s how you`ve had pretty much all of the really costly floods in U.S. history have been in the last couple of decades.

HAYES: I want to highlight one thing you just said. Three 500-year floods in Houston in the last three years.

Micheal Grunwald, thanks for your time.

GRUNWALD: Any time, Chris.

HAYES: The president`s most fervent supporters still cheer him on at rallies. We`ll show you how Trump`s first seven months have attracted voters he can`t afford to lose, ahead.

Plus, a very special Thing One, Thing Two next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Thing One tonight, ready for the big leagues? As viewers of this program know, I am a die hard Cubs fan. I got to throw the first pitch at Wrigley Field last year, which we`ve shown on this program just a couple of times.

But the other other night while editing show scripts and watching the Cubs game out of the corner of my eye, I got to thinking something I think about a lot frankly. If I took a season`s worth of plate appearances in the major leagues would I get a single hit? I think the answer is no.

And a few minutes later I got an encouraging response from retired major league pitcher Dan Herron who finished his career with the Cubs, and he responded to me, yes, you would.

Hey, coming from a big league starting pitcher, I`ll take it.

That doesn`t really settle the question because literally the most insanely nerdy baseball stats website, which I love, Fangraphs, which has articles looking like this, decided to go hard at this bringing a massive amount of cognitive resources to bear. And the definitive answer whether in an entire baseball season I can get a single hit is Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Last week I tweeted a question I often think about, if I took a season`s worth of plate appearances in the majors would I get a single hit.

Today a response. Actually, a meticulously researched response from the uber nerdy baseball stat website Fangraph, which analyzed averaged bat speed and swing angle of non pros, league bating averages over time, even crunching the minor league numbers of potentially comparable players, the favors that group is called. Certain number of favor draft picks take place each year, the pitching coordinator`s nephew, and agent`s son, a friend of the owner`s family, guys who don`t belong on a pro ball field as Hayes didn`t.

So what did they find for someone like me seeing roughly 600 at bats over one season? With a 97% strikeout rate and 100 batting average on balls and play, well worse than baseball`s ever seen, Hayes would get 1.8 hits. Almost two hits.

The co-founder of the firm they consulted with added, "It`s likely wiser and more realistic to expect a few more. Doesn`t hurt that as a lefty he`s closer to first base."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: By now you`ve probably become familiar with a certain genre of news story, the one that says despite everything Trump supporters still support Donald Trump and basically always will no matter what. To a large extent that`s true.

There are huge numbers of hardcore Trump backers, the kinds of people who show up at his political rallies long past election day to keep cheering him on. And there really is no amount of Russia scandal or anything else that`s going to cause them to stop supporting the president.

But the hardest of the hardcore Trump supporters are not the reason Donald Trump is President of the United States.

Remember, Trump got less than 45% of the vote in the GOP primaries. He was not the first choice of a majority of Republicans. But in November, faced with the prospect of Hillary Clinton, the so-called reluctant Trump voter was born. Basically Republicans who didn`t really want to vote for Trump but voted for Trump. And there are now signs that some of them had enough.

As FiveThirtyEight points out, Trump`s approval ratings has been trending downwards all year. And listen to what members of a Pittsburgh focus group had to say when asked for a word or feeling to describe the president. Five of these people voted for Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outrageous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dishonest.

UNIDENTIFIEND FEMALE: Disappointed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Narcissistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abject disappointment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unique.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not ready to be president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off the scale.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Completely unfit to be president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Contemptible. everyone in the focus group

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Almost everyone in the focus group was disappointed and impatient with the president, but a lot of that exasperation with the president came from the people who voted for him in November.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What most disappoints me is he`s such an incredibly flawed individual, that has articulated many of the values that I hold dear, and the messenger is overwhelming the message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know he`s a nut. Everybody knew he was a nut. But there comes a point in time where you need to become professional. He`s not even professional, let alone presidential.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you vote for him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing that drives me crazy is all the tweeting he does. Why doesn`t he just quit that, tweeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought okay, this guy, he`s not a politician, but in some aspects he`s almost turning into a politician. Just in a different way. He`s saying what he thinks his base wants to hear, whatever, but he`s just -- he`s let me down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Yet, crucially, despite the disappointment, none of them would have actually withdrawn -- have actually withdrawn their support for the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s trending really the wrong way for quite a long period of time, but possibly he could have an epiphany and change. I hope he does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn`t change my vote, but I hope he makes changes in himself to right the ship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: I know what you`re thinking, why did so many of those Trump voters say they voted for him in the first place. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am surely not his base, even though I was more influenced, just to be honest, it was anti-Hillary vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I liked his platform, "Make America Great Again", keeping jobs in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My vote was more, I didn`t want more of what we already had.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Pollsters conducting that focus group with the Pittsburgh area voters in conjunction with Emory University, Peter Hart joins me now.

Peter, really fascinating and I thought an interesting look at a really crucial category of voters, who are not the hardcore supporters that we don`t often see.

What surprised you most?

PETER HART, POLLSTER: What surprised me most is how embarrassed the American public is with Donald Trump as their president.

I really did not expect that from his group of voters. As you say, those are the soft supporters, but they represent about 15% of all voters and that`s a group that he has to have behind him.

And what`s so important here is, I`ve been doing this since Richard Nixon was president, and a focus group every single president, no president has ever embarrassed the American public. What`s happened is they`ve disagreed with them on issues, they`ve disagreed with them on moral stance, and everything else, but this person, Donald Trump, embarrasses them.

HAYES: Embarrasses them in the sense that the supporters I saw saying like the woman said, he`s a nut, we all knew he was a nut, or over on the messenger, or one thing that - one really consistent theme that I thought was interesting was that they just feel like it`s all about him. Which I think a lot of people feel that way. I was interested to see that Trump voters were getting that sense, too.

HART: Without a doubt. They kept saying, and coming back to the plan that it is about him, and he`s -- he only thinks about himself.

As one person put it, he doesn`t have the ability to relate to or care about other people. It always comes back to dividing people rather than finding a way to unite them.

HAYES: And yet, and yet, they have not abandoned their support. They do not revert their vote.

I saw some polling today that said 96% of Trump voters don`t want their vote back. So they seem frustrated, his personality really irks them, but that`s not the same as, I`m not going to vote for him again.

HART: Well, I think it`s a long road for him because what it comes down to is, he has to change who he is. It is not a problem of a particular position whether it be health care or something else. This is about the core of the human being, and more importantly, it`s the embarrassment factor.

If you go anyplace around the world, there is a sense that people say, what are you doing in America? And that`s what`s being fed back to people, and that`s how they`re feeling day to day.

HAYES: I want to play you this clip, which you ask folks about the Mueller investigation. I thought this was so fascinating.

I`ll play the clip and you can respond. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HART: I`ll go around very quickly. I`ll start with Mary and go the other way around.

Put it in your head, Robert Mueller. If you don`t know, just say don`t know. Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watchdog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Serious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hurry up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Domino.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hate to have his job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully effective.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Now, what`s fascinating there you see I think Clinton voters who are saying like hurry up, they know Mueller, they`re supportive of him. You saw them saying contemptible in these very strong feelings about Trump.

But the four don`t knows, those were all Trump voters, right?

HART: Yes, and essentially, we always think that everybody`s listening to every single show and they know every single person. And the fact is is that Robert Mueller is just being introduced to an awful lot of people, and so he is not somebody that has established his credentials for a lot of people, but certainly with the media leak he has done so.

HAYES: That`s really interesting. It`s a reminder of where people are getting news from, what they are getting. How closely they`re following things.

Peter Hart, thanks for joining us. Learned a lot.

That is All In for this evening.

The Rachel Maddow show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

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

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