Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: September 20, 2017
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Again, they want the bread, they want the circus. Hail Caesar. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes Starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Robert Mueller is an honorable man. And hopefully, he`ll come up with an honorable solution.
HAYES: The Special Counsel now looking at the President`s own actions in the White House while the President`s former Campaign Chief reportedly offered private 2016 briefings to a Russian billionaire.
TRUMP: He was with the campaign, as you know, for a short period of time.
HAYES: Then, the backlash to the new Senate Republican health care bill grows.
JIMMY KIMMEL, ABC HOST: There`s a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you. It`s called the lie detector test.
HAYES: And the Trump official who built his career preaching fiscal responsibility busted taking private planes.
TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We`re wasting significant amounts of money.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Major breaking news tonight in the Russia investigation. Two big revelations on whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. That possibility and whether Donald Trump`s actions as President amount to obstruction of justice. First, from the Washington Post, reporting tonight, "less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican Presidential Nomination, his Campaign Chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions. If he needs private briefings, we can accommodate, Paul Manafort wrote in the July 7th, 2016 e-mail, portions of which were red to the Washington Post.
Manafort`s spokesman Jason Maloni has confirmed to NBC News the authenticity of the e-mails and said they were turned over to Congressional committees. And Post reports, there is no reports as yet that the Russian billionaire received Manafort`s offer or that briefings took place. But "investigators believe the exchanges which reflect Manafort`s willingness to profit from his prominent role alongside Trump created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. Presidential campaign." Also today, the clear signs yet that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump Himself and actions he has taken in office as the President. New York Times reporting just hours ago that, "the Special Counsel has asked the White House for documents about some of President Trump`s most scrutinized actions since taking office, including the firing of his National Security Adviser and FBI Director, according to the White House officials."
Further quoting with Times, "Mueller is also interested in an Oval Office meeting g Mr. Trump had with Russian officials in which he said dismissal of the FBI Director had relieved great pressure on him." As the Times notes, over recent weeks, Mueller`s team has listed 13 different areas in their document requests to the White House. Here to break down these major developments in Mueller`s investigation, MSNBC Legal Analyst Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Renato Mariotti, a former Federal Prosecutor. Let`s start with the Manafort news because I find this pretty remarkable. It`s not conclusive of anything but what is shows Paul Manafort, Campaign Chair, for one of the two major party nominees, who is pretty clearly and by the admission of his own spokesperson, Renato, seeking to profit with foreign interests over that position explicitly.
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. I`ve got it tell you, what shocked me the most Chris, is the response from the spokesperson was that this was innocuous, like commonplace, like, you know, this is something that happens all the time. I guess for Paul Manafort for you know, trying to pedal your influence with a Russian billionaire is something he does every day. I think it`s really shocking. If I was his spokesperson or his attorney, I would say very little about this because it`s troubling. What it -- what it indicates to me is, you know, this -- there was some effort, not only to get -- I think something for himself but you could, you know, imply that this guy was going to have an interest in potentially in the Trump campaign.
I mean, why is -- you know, why is a Russian billionaire getting special access and special information about the Trump campaign? I think it suggests that he is going to want something in return and that would be a crime if some official act was promised to the Russian government in exchange for something of value or just getting foreign contributions at all could be a crime. And we know Mueller`s looking at that because he has -- got that search warrant on Facebook. So I think it`s highly troubling. And I think it -- what -- the biggest problem for Manafort and I think the biggest implication is, you know, these other crimes that Mueller is looking at, like false disclosure forms, taxes, things like that, you know, those are obviously serious crimes. They`re felonies.
But you could imagine him getting pardoned for that, you can imagine people saying, Mueller didn`t find any collusion. But if there is some crime related to trading influence with a Russian oligarch, that is the sort of thing that if I was Manafort`s attorney, I would tell him, I`m not sure there`s going to be a pardon, it will be harder to attack what Mueller is doing is a witch hunt, and, oh, by the way, when the judge gets to sentencing, I think you might get the book thrown at you if you`re convicted. So this is serious business.
HAYES: Barbara, Oleg Deripaska who is the oligarch at the center of this, a few things about reporting on him, he`s reportedly quite close to Vladimir Putin. He has a long relationship with Paul Manafort and in fact, at one point essentially initiated legal proceedings against Manafort for$19 million that he said Manafort essentially had taken from him and misused. We don`t know what became of those proceedings. My question to you is, there does seem to be the question that hangs over this of economic entrapment or economic incentives which is to say, someone owing someone money and that making them open to possible misbehavior, right?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. One of the first questions they ask you on a background investigation is whether anybody has any sort of leverage over you that could be used to compromise you, blackmail you, get you to do them favors that is not in the best interest of the United States. So that debt alone is very problematic and it certainly raises a lot of other questions. To what extent did President Trump know about this? And remember, at the moment when this happens, Paul Manafort is the Campaign Manager, very high level. So, to what extent is he offering access to the campaign on behalf of the candidate himself? Certainly, if he is seeking personal favor, there could be a problem there. But what if he`s offering in exchange or is seeking campaign contributions which would also be illegal?
HAYES: There`s also the question, Renato, to follow on this sort of question of who owes who money. Maloni, the Manafort spokesperson -- I just think it`s worth zooming in on this. His story is people owed Paul Manafort money, right? They owed him money. He`s trying to collect on his debts so he`s offering this free boutique briefing service. But it also seems possible that the owing goes the other way around and he`s trying to work off of that. Like, I don`t understand, if someone owes you money, why are you offering them a service? That`s not usually how it works. Am I wrong?
MARIOTTI: I agree with that and I mean, anybody -- look, your viewers don`t need me to tell them that if you are trading access to a Presidential candidate in exchange for any money or any repayment of a debt, that is very dangerous business. And so, you know, if -- you know, if I was still a federal prosecutor and I was on Mueller`s team, I would be looking at a whole bunch of different crimes that I could potentially charge coming out of that. And, you know -- you know, honestly, Paul Manafort is -- you know, is in a lot of trouble. You know, he already -- we know from the New York Times just yesterday, that Bob Mueller intends to charge Paul Manafort. This just means that you know, the evidence that he has at his disposal is even more explosive than we thought.
HAYES: Barbara, to the New York Times story about the document request to the White House, I wanted to get your take on this because obviously, this is not -- this is not the normal run of the mill investigation when you`re dealing with the White House. There`s executive privilege, there`s all sorts of ways in which the White House can attempt to shield its documents. What do you make of the scope of this document request and whether they`re going to be able to get their hands on this material?
MCQUADE: You know, in the reporting we have today described maybe three or four of the categories and it`s been reported that the Mueller team is requested 13 different categories, so very broad. My guess is that there will be some negotiation and back and forth done to try to narrow the scope. But at the end of the day, Robert Mueller really holds all of the cards. If he wanted to, he could use a grand jury subpoena and be a little more heavy-handed about it. And then it had to go to court to file a motion to quash that subpoena.
So, you know, I haven`t seen anything described that seems like it was beyond the scope of what is a legitimate request. You know he has the power with his subpoena power to ask for anything that is reasonably designed for the discovery of admissible evidence to prove up his crimes. And I think it really signals when we look at the events that he`s looking at, that he does have his sights set on a potential obstruction of justice investigation when he`s focusing on the kinds of events that have been reported.
HAYES: Including, according to the New York Times, that famous meeting just a few days after Comey was fired with Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister, and then Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which he reportedly said that getting rid of the Comey, the nut job, had taken the pressure off. That`s one of the things Mueller seeking more information about. Barbara McQuade and Renato Mariotti, thank you.
MARIOTTI: Thank you.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Also today, new reporting on efforts by a suspected Russian interest on Facebook to explicitly mobilize support for Donald Trump during last year`s campaign. The Daily Beast breaking the story that, "suspected Russia propagandists tried to organize more than a dozen pro-Trump rallies in Florida during last year`s election. And they appear to be the first case of Russian provocateurs successfully mobilizing Americans over Facebook in direct support of Donald Trump. The August 20th, 2016 event were called Florida goes Trump and were described as patriotic flash mobs in 17 different Florida cities.
Now, it`s just the latest in a story that`s been widening ever since Facebook first confirmed the existence of Russian linked accounts that had bought ads around the campaign. Now, Special Counsel Mueller has obtained a warrant for information on these Facebook accounts and earlier, I spoke with Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. I asked him, what kinds of information his committee was seeking from Facebook.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE CHAIRMAN, SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: Well, Chris, as far back as last winter, we raised concerns that the Russians were using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to both advertise, to create fake accounts, to try to drive stories. We`ve increasingly seen to try to drive people out to rallies and other events. Facebook at first -- and this is fairly disappointing -- you know, kind of blew off those notions and said that really wasn`t happening.
We now know for a fact that it has been happening and what we want to make sure is that Facebook is fully transparent that they`ve done a thorough review looking backward of what all happened, how many accounts that were fake that were affected by Russia. How much of the ads, what they`ve reported so far is 100, $150,000 worth of ads. Those were only ads that were paid for in rubles so the fact is I think the Russian spy services know how to hide a little better than just using rubles. (INAUDIBLE) little deeper.
HAYES: Wait a second. Is that -- I don`t -- I don`t think I quite realized that. That`s the number that -- so the150,000, which always struck me as a sort of small amount of money if you`re going to do this as an enterprise, you`re saying that`s cordoned off because it was actually paid for in rubles?
WARNER: That was just paid for in rubles and what we found so far is that Facebook didn`t even take those same accounts and run them and see if they placed other ads, maybe paying in dollars or Euros or other currencies. So I don`t think they`ve given us the whole story. And let me get -- let me just give you another example to give the audience some way to put in perspective. Now, I`ll grant before the 2016 elections, this was kind of wild, wild west. Facebook was learning we were all, I think, seeing these tools being used for the first time in many ways.
By the time the French elections came in the spring, work -- Facebook being more cooperative working with French authorities, took down their words close to 50,000 accounts that were affiliated with Russia, 50,000 in France, much smaller country. So far, Facebook in the United States has only identified 470 accounts that may have been fake accounts that were promoting certain stories or prodding certain interest groups. To me, that -- again, just doesn`t pass the smell test. Maybe that`s correct, but if they did 50,000 in France and only did 470 in America when in America we know they`ve hacked into both parties, they -- Russia attacked 21 state electoral systems. I just think there`s a lot more questions to be answered and that`s why we`re going to have the that public hearing come next month.
HAYES: Do you have more access -- do you have access to more data than we have publicly with respect to Facebook?
WARNER: I wish -- I wish I could tell you yes. We do not. I know they`re going to come back in shortly. What they did so far was they, in effect, showed us certain things to the staff and then took those materials away, which, again, raises questions in my mind, you know, that we may need legislative changes, both in terms of tightening up the restrictions about foreign money flowing into our elections. But also, you know, I think as an American, if somebody`s putting a political ad for me or against me, Americans ought to be able to go and look at that content. That happens on T.V., that happens on the radio, that happens on newspaper ads if this moment in time that does not happen in social media and in the internet world.
HAYES: Senator Mark Warner, thank you.
WARNER: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: All right, tonight we are following some desperate human terrier situations in the wake of two different natural disasters. The entire island of the American Island of Puerto Rico, 3.5 million American who live there without power and running water right now after Hurricane Maria devastated the island today as a Category 4, while in Mexico we now have at least 230 people confirmed dead from yesterday`s 7.1 magnitude earthquake. There`s a frantic search at this very moment for survivors amidst the rubble. We`ll have a live report from Puerto Rico and Mexico City ahead.
First, the growing backlash to the last-minute Republican effort to scrap ObamaCare. That`s next in two minutes.
HAYES: As Republicans prepare to vote next week on their latest ObamaCare repeal bill, they`re replicating the same process they`ve tried time and time again, attempting essentially to sneak the bill through before anybody gets a very good look at it. But the backlash is already beginning to grow. The CBO won`t have time to fully analyze the so-called Graham- Cassidy bill, but today a consulting firm of Avalere Health released a study showing the bill would cut federal funding to states by $215 billion through 2026. That number skyrocketing to more than $4 trillion, that`s correct, over a 20-year period. That`s because the funding runs out after the budget window.
Now, meanwhile, just about every professional, medical and industry group opposes this legislation as they have previous versions, including America`s Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, both representing, of course, insurers. Then there`s the American Medical Association the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association and a coalition of 16 patient and provider groups that include groups like the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes. Today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came out against Graham-Cassidy echoing other high-profile Republican governors who signed a letter also in opposition to the bill. But perhaps the biggest blow Graham-Cassidy came from a late-night Talk Show Host, Comedian Jimmy Kimmel who first entered in the health care debate nay after his newborn son went through open heart surgery, inspiring what Senator Bill Cassidy, who`s a co-sponsor of this current bill called the Jimmy Kimmel test. Well, last night, Kimmel said Cassidy`s own plan fails that test.
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KIMMEL: Now, I don`t know what happened to Bill Cassidy, but when he was on this publicity tour, he listed his demands for a health care bill very clearly. These were his words. He said he wants coverage for all, no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, lower premiums for middle- class families and no lifetime caps. And guess what, the new bill does none of those things. Not only did Bill Cassidy fail the Jimmy Kimmel test, he failed the Bill Cassidy test. He failed his own test. And you don`t see that happen very much. And this guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face. Call your Congressperson, that`s the number. Go to your Congressperson, whoever he or she is, 202-224-3121. You have to do -- you can`t just click "like" on this video. Tell them this bill doesn`t pass your test.
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HAYES: Today, MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt asked Cassidy and the co-sponsor of the bill Senator Lindsey Graham for their response.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I wish he would have called Senator Cassidy and asked him if what I`m reading true because you heard some liberal talking points that are absolute garbage. He bought it hook, line and sinker and I don`t like the idea of calling this good man a liar without ever talking to him first. That really says more about Mr. Kimmel than does Dr. Cassidy.
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But states would be able to not cover people with pre-existing conditions --
GRAHAM: That`s garbage. Where were you getting this garbage?
HUNT: Well, they would -- they would be able to ask out if they --
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: The legislation -- the legislation specifically says that the state applying for a waiver would have to ensure that those with pre-existing conditions would have access to adequate and affordable coverage.
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HAYES: Senator Tim Kaine was the Democrat`s Vice Presidential candidate in 2016. Now, sits on the Senate Health Committee which has over-sighted health care in a normal process would be having hearings on this but isn`t. So you saw your colleagues call this idea that there`s no protections for folks with pre-existing conditions garbage. Are they right?
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: Chris, this does not protect people with pre-existing conditions and that`s one of the three horrible aspects of the Graham-Cassidy bill. So, let`s talk about it. They`re saying, no, we protect you but states get the right to waive essential health benefits which right now they cannot waive. They have to be provided. So you could basically get a policy written on somebody with diabetes. OK, well, we`ll write you a policy but it doesn`t cover insulin. Or you know, you`re somebody who needs cancer treatment, I`ll write you a policy, it doesn`t cover chemotherapy.
I`m a woman, I`d like maternity care. We`re going to write you a policy, it just doesn`t cover maternity care. So the whole heart of this pre- existing condition argument is you ought to be able to get coverage that includes coverage for your condition but the waiver of essential health benefits allows states to write you a policy that doesn`t even cover the condition that you have and that`s why the bill flunks the Kimmel test and everybody with a pre-existing condition is scared to death about what this bill would mean.
HAYES: I want to give the argument that the bill`s co-sponsors I think would make which is that in order to get the waiver, the state has to certify that people have access to affordable care. That`s what you saw Senator Cassidy talking about. Do you think that that essentially won`t mean anything when implemented?
KAINE: Chris Hayes, a state would say that and then it would be up to Tom Price, who hates the Affordable Care Act, who hates Medicaid, who is against all of these programs, it would be up to him to say, oh, yes, I agree with you. You`re fine. There is no protection. It`s going to be a race to the bottom and the pre-existing condition argument it`s a -- it`s a slight of hand. They`ll write you a policy but it doesn`t have to cover the condition that you have. And that`s why Jimmy Kimmel says you`ve got to be kidding me. Now we`ll move to the second -- the second bad part of this bill -- go ahead.
HAYES: Well, I want to ask you about another part of this. Maybe this is what you`re moving on to, which is about this strange interstate transfer of money.
KAINE: Yes. Weird.
HAYES: It is weird.
HAYES: Although, you`re in a sort of opposite position as someone, say, like Rob Portman, right? So, Rob Portman is in Ohio where they have Medicaid expansion. Ohio is going to be a net loser. You represent Virginia which hasn`t expanded and which has --stands to gain essentially - - in fact, Senator Cassidy is shouting out Virginia as one of the beneficiaries of this bill. If you`re going to get more money under this, then why don`t you like it?
KAINE: In the short term and you`re right, this is the second bad piece of this bill. So, you take all of the money that right now we`re spending on the Affordable Care Act. Over the next ten years, you reduce that by $240 million, which drives premiums up and then at the end of ten years you eliminate it. Now, but then to obscure it, Chris, you shuffle it all around in the first ten years so some states get more, some states get less. Bottom line is, the money that`s coming to people under ObamaCare gets slashed by $240 billion over the next 10 years and then completely eliminated.
They`re trying to buy a few states off by giving some states a little more and others get less. But you can`t take $240 billion out of this. Most of that money is tax credits to help people buy insurance. So if you take that money out, you can reshuffle it all you want, taking $240 billion out increases premiums and hurts people and the estimate is, capped at an estimate that said about 800,000 Virginians could stand to lose coverage by this. Again, just like the pre-existing condition thing, they are going through a lot of efforts to hide what is really happening that now let me get to the third part of the bill which is the worst part of it.
KAINE: They say this is repeal and replace ObamaCare but why go after Medicaid? This is what they did in -- even the House didn`t go after the base Medicaid program but the Senate did and this bill does, too. It puts caps on the Medicaid program, the core Medicaid program that existed before there was the Affordable Care Act and those caps would take about $120 million out of Medicaid over the next ten years and that number would grow in future years. Why are they so fixed on trying to attack Medicaid? In Virginia and most places, 55 to 60 percent of the recipients of Medicaid are children.
If you need a wheelchair to go to school, it`s Medicaid that`s paying the wheelchair and it`s usually Medicaid that`s reimbursing the school system for the services that they`re providing you. But why are they going after Medicaid? This whole thing, in my view, it`s a big smoke screen. They want to get rid of ObamaCare but what they really are fixated upon is going after Medicaid. The Medicaid program didn`t have anything to do -- the core program with ObamaCare, but that`s what they`re going after and they are probably doing so they can take all of these savings and make it part of their big tax cut plan that they`re going to bring up next month.
HAYES: All right. Senator Tim Kaine, thank you.
HAYES: Still to come, Tom Brokaw on what actually constitutes a scandal anymore near Trump. But first, the latest reporting on the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks claiming over 200 lives and we will go live to Puerto Rico where the entire island is currently dark and without power in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
HAYES: At least 230 people are dead in Mexico after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit yesterday and that number is expected to rise. Rescuers are still sifting through the rubble of dozens of fallen buildings searching for survivors and rushing them to medical help. NBC News Correspondent Ron Mott is in Mexico City by a collapsed building where rescue teams are listening to voices of survivors. Ron, what are you seeing there?
RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Chris. Good evening. Well, we do know that there are known survivors in this building behind me. I`ll step out of the way. We`ve got a little bit of thunderstorm cell right on top of us that dropped some hailstones on us as well. I can see the rescuers are back out on top of this building. It`s a six-story building that was an employment agency.
And so at the lunch hour yesterday, it was crowded, especially with a lot of young people looking for work. We do know that on the fourth floor of this building that there was a group of people who were trapped in a conference room and they are trapped in what they are calling now, for lack of a better phrase if you will, the triangle of life. The floor above them has collapsed at an angle giving them some room to breathe, literally, and that the backside is a wall that you can see on the portion of the building that did not collapse and so rescuers have been working all day, since this earthquake hit yesterday afternoon, trying to get a tunnel built to try to get to them to get them out of there.
We do know that they have spoken with them, they have gotten them some water and some food. Their family members have been told on the scene that they are okay and now it`s just a matter of time for them to get them out of there. There are engineers up there as part of this team who are helping to rescue these folks. And again, this is a scene that`s repeated around Mexico`s capital city. As you know, we`ve had more than 40 buildings collapsed here. One including today and there`s another building apparently that is at risk of collapsing.
So there are a lot of vulnerable buildings still in the capital city tonight and a lot of folks are still out tonight waiting for good word here at this scene if they can get these between 12and 14 people out. We do not know how many of those14 who were still listed as in the building and perhaps stranded there are still alive but we know that there are people alive in this building and folks are waiting and we`ll wait all night for good word to come out of this rubble behind me. Chris?
HAYES: All right, NBC`s Ron Mott, thank you for that. In Puerto Rico tonight, more than 3 million Americans are without power from Hurricane Maria. Officials warn electricity could be out for months. We`re going to go live to Puerto Rico next.
HAYES: The entire island of Puerto Rico is without power tonight after Hurricane Maria made landfall as a category 4 earlier today topping trees, tearing off roofs and causing widespread flooding. But as more than 3 million Americans assess the devastation, officials are warning the island could be without power for months.
NBC`s Gadi Schwartz rode out the storm. He joins us live from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Gadi, what`s it like there?
GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC NEWS: Hey, Chris, you were just talking about the lack of power out here, so I have got to apologize, the picture might get a little bit pixelated, because we`ve been having trouble with the cell phone signals, with power. Obviously it is out all around us. It`s very dark.
We just got out of the hurricane shelter where we spent 24 hours bunkered down. This is some of the first devastation we are seeing here.
So this is a classroom, and I want to show you this, this is basically wrought iron windows that were boarded up and the frame just blew out from the strength of these hurricane-force winds.
In fact, over there there is a cooler, some type of swamp cooler that is hanging on by a couple of wires, a very dangerous situation. Inside of this classroom, we can see things just tossed all about. In fact, that`s a little kid`s cubby, it looks like his name is Jidell.
But this, fortunately, no one was inside. This is the type of devastation that we`re seeing just less than a mile away from the shelter where we were hunkered down throughout the storm and we expect to see more of this in the next coming days. Chris?
HAYES: Alright. Gadi Schwartz, thanks for joining us and please stay safe.
Still to come, HHS Secretary Tom Price, champion of fiscal responsibility, reportedly spent around $60,000 on private jets in just three days.
That story and Tom Brokaw on what counts as a scandal in the age of Trump.
Plus, a geography lesson from the president in Thing 1 and Thing 2 next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: Thing 1 tonight, every now and then Donald Trump likes to go on about his knowledge of Africa. He made quite a name for himself suggesting that his predecessor was born there.
And around that same time he let us know that he really, quote, "likes Nelson Mandela but South Africa is a crime ridden mess that is waiting to explode".
Thanks, Mr. Trump.
African leaders didn`t appear too impressed by the president`s speech at the United Nations yesterday. Today at a U.N. lunch with some of those same African leaders, the president suggested the U.S. could benefit from teaming up with nations on the African continent and then he praised the health care system of an African country that does not exist.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Uganda has made incredible strides in the battle against HIV/AIDS. In Guinea and Nigeria you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak. Nambia health system is incredibly self-sufficient.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Nambia, who`s health system is apparently increasingly self- sufficient. Nambia doesn`t exist. It`s possible the president meant Namibia or Zambia, both of which have the virtue of being actual extent countries.
Now, as I can personally attest to, reading mishaps do happen all of the time from a teleprompter. What doesn`t happen all the time is the other thing President Trump told African leaders today and that`s Thing 2 in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: Before President Trump flubbed the name of an African nation at a U.N. lunch today with African leaders, he appeared to marvel at Africa`s business opportunities while giving what New Yorker journalist Philip Gourevitch summarized as, "European colonialism in 140 characters."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich.
I congratulate you. They`re spending a lot of money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Congratulations. Now, the president tends to view places on the globe in terms of business opportunities and opportunities for profit, so it`s really only a matter of time until someone tries to pitch him on a Trump Tower in Nambia. Many people are saying it`s getting recognized more and more. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: As the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price has defended proposed cuts of more then $1 trillion from Medicaid, $6 billion to National Institutes of Health, and 18% in cuts to his own department, and he loves, loves to stress his commitment to fiscal responsibility, as he did back in 2009. In an effort to buy private jets to transport members of the military and government officials, including members of Congress.
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TOM PRICE, HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I think we`ve made it halfway where we ought to, and that is cut it from eight to four jets. Now we need to cut it from four jets to zero jets.
This is just another example of a fiscal irresponsibility run amok in Congress right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Private jets, fiscal irresponsibility run amok. That was Tom Price then.
This is tom price now. You`re looking at the 30-seat private jet that Price and Kellyanne Conway took last week from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and back at a cost of around $25,000. and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Tom Price`s private jet problem right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: According to some incredible reporting from Politico, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a man who pushes for massive spending cuts to federal programs to benefit the poor, spent around $60,000 in taxpayer money on private jets during just a three-day period last week.
That included a flight from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and back on a 30-seat private charter at a cost of -- this is really astounding -- $25,000.
Here`s the things. D.C. and Philly are less than 150 miles apart and there`s no lack of options to get from one to the other. Price spent $25,000 of taxpayer money to charter the private jet.
Even at the last minute, a round trip flight which itself is a bit much, just $150 apart, would cost at most $725. That`s a lot less than $25,000.
The most expensive train from D.C. to Philly and back today, which is comfortable, you know it`s the Acela. You can sit there. When we looked at it this afternoon, it was $544 per person. The cost to drive there and back between gas and tolls comes in at $92.
Which means, Price could have saved taxpayers over $24,000 if he just drove 2 1/2 hours there and back.
Asked to explain, HHS told Politico that, "When commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements, charter aircraft can be used for official travel."
But, as Politico noted, "Price`s charter left Dulles airport at 8:27 and a United Airlines flight departed for Philadelphia at 8:22."
Remember, the $60,000 that Price spent on private jets came during just a three-day period last week.
Current and former staffers tell Politico, "He`s been taking private jets for months".
Someone who knows exactly how unusual this kind of behavior is, former White House Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu, who is also Deputy Secretary for the Department of Labor under President Obama. He joins me now.
Chris, did you take a lot of private chartered jets -- you were the person in the White House that was liaising with various cabinet heads.
Was this a standard thing that you guys would do?
CHRIS LU, FMR WHITE HOUSE CABINET SECRETARY: Absolutely not. This was not a standard thing.
I guess Tom Price probably didn`t want to ride on a plane with the people`s whose health care he`s taking away. But seriously, leaving aside the cost, who thinks the fastest way from D.C. to Philadelphia is taking a plane? You could have driven it much faster.
HAYES: You can not pay me to drive to Dulles in any iteration. The idea you would drive to Dulles to take a charter jet is insane.
LU: But Chris, literally every single day, I can point to something that the Trump administration is doing that would have gotten us fired in Obama White House.
And you`ll remember back in 2011 there was this whole controversy about muffins that might have cost $16 at a Department of Justice Conference. That turned out not to be the case, but you had Senators like Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions in uproar and I haven`t heard that kind of uproar from Republicans now.
HAYES: I had forgotten the $16 muffin, but it was a thing for a week.
LU: That actually was a thing. And we`ve had week after week. And it`s not just Price`s jet. Last week we were talking about Mnuchin wanting to get a government jet for his honeymoon. He took the jet to Kentucky to see the eclipse.
This is part of a broader pattern. When you`ve got a president who doesn`t take ethics seriously, this flows down to his cabinet.
Absolutely not. We did not take private jets. I will say this, the rare exception is when you are going to very remote place, like you are seeing tornado damage or you have to make multiple stops within the same day. You could make the request but you have to go through a detailed cost justification, and this is not something we did regularly in Obama administration.
HAYES: Now it is their prerogative right? Different administrations have their own budgets. Money is appropriated by Congress right? So, if the HHS in Trump administration wants to allocate millions of dollars so that our Secretary flies around on chartered jets they can do that legally right?
It`s just a question of priorities.
LU: Chris, that`s exactly right. You`ve pointed out that Price is supporting a budget that cuts medical research. HHS is already cutting advertising for Obamacare, they are already cutting budgets for the navigators to help people sign up.
I`ll defer to ethics experts on whether it`s allowed or not, but this is a poor use of government resources that could go to people who really need the assistance.
HAYES: Yeah, I`m expecting a story that he flew from one quadrant of D.C. to the other on a charter jet as the next story.
Chris Lu, thanks for being with me tonight.
LU: Thank you.
HAYES: Back in 1991, President Bush`s Chief of Staff, that`s H.W. Bush, John Sununu resigned due in part to his improper use of government aircraft.
NBC News Tom Brokaw brought viewers the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Tonight, the president`s Chief of Staff is out, saying that he resigned so he wouldn`t be a drag on the president`s success.
NBC`s John Cochrin is at the White House now -- John.
JOHN COCHRIN, NBC: Although Sununu liked to joke that he was just a pussycat, it was his personality invariably called abrasive that rubbed Washington`s power brokers the wrong way. He could have survived that, but George Bush began losing confidence in him during the Flap Over Air Sununu, his use of government transportation for personal travel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Air Sununu.
Joining me now is former Nightly News anchor, Tom Brokaw, now a special correspondent for NBC News. It`s such a pleasure to have you here with me.
BROKAW: When I first read the story about the Secretary I was immediately reminded of the Monday night ESPN crew. I wanted to say come on man. I just couldn`t believe that they would be that brash and that brazen and that tone deaf about what they`re up to.
I`m a peripatetic traveler. I travel a lot. And I always look at the different options.
Now look, I like to go on charter planes as much as anybody else does. But if I`m going from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia, I don`t want to make the drive to Dulles, what I want to do is hire a car and driver and get on the through-way and get to Philadelphia and be there in the center of the city in a lot more efficient fashion then they are.
These are the people who came and said we`re going to drain the swamp. We`re outraged by what`s been going on here.
Remember at the beginning of the Obama administration he brought Michelle to New York on kind of a dinner date and he got blown up for that, and he learned his lesson in a hurry, with good reason by the way.
This is is outrageous example of arrogance. This is the same secretary who is a member of Congress, however, charge of health care in America and the committee was trading health care stocks at the time.
HAYES: I`m glad you brought that up. It`s really quite remarkable, with Price in particular. He really had some serious ethical questions in that confirmation hearing, if not perhaps legal ones. There was some reporting that the U.S. Attorney for Southern District, Preet Bharara, who was then fired by Trump was investigating it. But he was pretty clearly trading in stocks that he had regulatory of as a member of the committee.
And now you`ve got this story. The thing I thought about Price was that in another iteration he would have a harder go even being confirmed. Do you think that`s true?
BROKAW: Well, I think there`s no question about that. The fact is he`s got a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate. They were coming in at a time when there was an immediate feel of good will that they were going to get things done and we are the people that can do that.
You also have the Secretary of Treasury, Mnuchin who has been using a lot of the government checks and talking about it like it`s his entitlement.
I don`t know where that all comes from. I don`t know if it`s just arrogance or because, the case of Mnuchin, he came out of the private sector. He`s a very wealthy guy that could call up and get his airplane.
But in Price`s case, he`s been in Congress for 14 years now, and no one has been overlooking a lot of these issues.
HAYES: Yeah. Members of Congress I should note here, they all basically fly commercial all the time. I mean if you are ever going in and out of D.C. airports you see them because they have got to go back to their districts and their states and they`re used to it.
I think the question I had and one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you after we were looking at that clip is, there`s this question of what constitutes a scandal. That was a huge deal. That was a multi-day story. That guy was the Chief of Staff for the President of United States and he got bounced essentially for using government jets too much.
BROKAW: Well, not just government jets, but fact is he didn`t go as far as Secretary Price did. He got a government car to drive him from Washington to New York.
HAYES: That was big one right? Drive 4 1/2 hours.
BROKAW: Because he was looking at rare coins up here and he was driven back.
And so, there is that sense, when they get to Washington, have enormous power, they push a button, they get whatever they want, that they think they`re immune, but these are the people who are going to change the rules.
Stop and think if any member of the Obama administration had done something like that, where social media would be, Fox News would be aflame with what is going on.
So there are abuses across the board in government, no question. But this is prima facie. I just don`t know how they can defend it in any fashion. I really don`t.
HAYES: Do you think our standards -- one of the things that`s happened in the era is it`s hard to keep up with the different stories.
Scott Pruitt is under investigation, there are calls for investigation because he is flying back to Oklahoma so much, and that story barely rated a mention.
I guess my question to you, do you think the standard for what we identify as scandal has changed over time or just this particular administration is such a barrage of news it`s hard to pull out individual things?
BROKAW: Well, I think a lot of people in the Republican administration come from wealth and privilege and they extend that when they come to government. They`ve gotten used to.
As the case as to what was going on in Oklahoma. I can`t say but probably had a lot of access to planes whenever they wanted it.
But I do think the administration that comes in going to drain the swamp, we`re going to change things, we`re going to represent the populace out there, we`re going to break up the old gang in Washington, and they`re going to be more responsive to your values can`t turn around and do this.
The president, for example, and the amount of time that he is spending at Mar-A-Largo and golf courses, that`s also an issue. I can`t think of president in recent years could have gotten away with it.
When Ronald Reagan first took office he liked to ride. But he would be out there with his pants and long boots but they knew it was terrible image because they knew he was riding at that point. So they dialed it down for him and said you can`t do that anymore Mr. President, it`s an image and it`s very symbolic in way that we don`t want to be symbolic.
HAYES: You know it`s interesting you bring that up because the one concession they have made was in the beginning when you had Melania Trump and Barron living in Trump Tower in New York City and the president in Washington, D.C. for that first period of time. And again, I`m respectful of the fact that you want continuity of the school year so I didn`t actually judge this in any way.
But that was very expensive to the Secret Service, and what`s interesting to me is that`s the one concession they made that that regime did come to a close. It`s not that they are entirely immune from the critiques.
BROKAW: No, and sometimes you make a hard transition from having everything you want as president had, in terms of planes and landing anywhere he wanted to.
I was going in and out of West Palm Beach on some business during that time when he was first going to Mar-A-Largo, those are people who has the same kind of wealth that he does, they were furious because they couldn`t move in the airport. He was tying up an entire section of the airport and lot of the freeways with the motorcade.
There is adjustment that needs to be made when you come to the country and say I`m going to change things, that`s really the test of this one.
HAYES: You know, the ultimate check it seems to me is ultimately public opinion right?
If people read this story about Tom Price and say it`s fine with me, ultimately that`s the thing that -- there`s ethical and legal restraints but that`s biggest one.
BROKAW: Well, I think there is something to that, but in any sensible mainstream America, if you say here are the numbers -- for example picked Philadelphia because it`s easy one, but he went to a resort in middle of Maine, a little harder to get to.
If I were getting there at this time I would have flown to Boston commercially and then hired a car and driver to drive me the extra two hours. That would have made -- even if someone else was paying for it, not comfortable with that. It`s lot better for me.
Now, having said that. I get it. I like charter planes, no question about that. But at the same time there`s a tick that goes off.
HAYES: There should be a tick in your head even if someone else is paying and not the tax payer.
Tom Brokaw, it`s always a pleasure to have you on the show.
BROKAW: Thanks so much, Chris.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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