Attorney General grilled over meetings with Russians Transcript 10/18/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Jon Soltz

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 18, 2017 Guest: Amy Klobuchar, Jon Soltz

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: They`re going to cut me off, and so I want to ask you some questions.

HAYES: Jeff Sessions meets the Senate.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: Mr. Chairman, I don`t have to sit here and listen to his --

FRANKEN: You`re the one who testified --

SESSIONS: -- charges.

HAYES: The Attorney General grilled for the first time in months over the Russians, obstruction, and the Mueller investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you been interviewed by them?

HAYES: Senator Amy Klobuchar was there and she joins me tonight.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Will you commit to not putting reporters in jail for doing their jobs?

HAYES: Then --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn`t say what that Congresswoman said. I didn`t say it at all.

HAYES: Reaction to the new jaw-dropping report that President Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 and didn`t follow through. And meet the far right Trump whispering inside the White House.

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER FOR POLICY TO DONALD TRUMP: Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us?

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. It has been nine months since Attorney General Jeff Sessions came before the Senate Judiciary Committee in his confirmation hearing. And it was his own untruthful testimony before that very Committee which led to his recusal in the Russia investigation and ultimately the appointment of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Sessions has since become key to questions about President Trump`s possible obstruction of justice, and today Senators were loaded with questions. Sessions was evasive remarkably, even about the simple question of whether he had been interviewed by Robert Mueller.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Were you request -- have you been interviewed or you`ve been requested to be interviewed by the Special Counsel either in connection with Director Comey`s firing, the Russian investigation or your contact with Russian officials?

SESSIONS: You`ll have to ask the Special Counsel that.

LEAHY: No. I`m asking you.

SESSIONS: Repeat the question then.

LEAHY: Have you been interviewed or been requested to be interviewed by the Special Counsel either in connection with Director Comey`s firing, the Russia investigation or your own contact with Russian officials?

SESSIONS: Well I`d be pleased to answer that. I`m not sure I should without clearing that with the Special Counsel. What do you think?

LEAHY: I`m just asking, have you been interviewed by them?


LEAHY: You haven`t been interviewed by the Special Counsel in any way, shape or manner?

SESSIONS: The answer is no.


HAYES: What`s so funny? Who knows? And then there was his rematch with Senator Al Franken whose question of course in the January Confirmation Hearing was the first domino that led to Robert Mueller`s appointment. Today Franken tried to highlight Sessions` changing characterizations about his multiple meetings with Russian officials.


FRANKEN: The goal post has been moved. First, it was I did not have communications with Russians which was not true. Then it was I never met with any Russians to discuss any political campaign, which may or may not be true. Now it`s, I did not discuss interference in the campaign, which further narrows your initial blanket denial about meeting with the Russians.

SESSIONS: Yes, you can say what you want to about the accuracy of it but I think it was a good faith response to a dramatic event at the time.


HAYES: And even though President Trump has not yet invoked executive privilege to bar Sessions from testifying on certain matters, Sessions will still like many other witnesses we`ve seen from this administration essentially, unilaterally saying what he does and doesn`t have to answer before a Congressional Committee.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D) CALIFORNIA: Did the President ever mention to you his concern about lifting the cloud on the Russia investigation?

SESSIONS: Senator Feinstein, that calls for a communication that I`ve had with the President and I believe it remains confidential.

FEINSTEIN: But you don`t deny that there was a communication?

SESSIONS: I do not confirm or deny the existence of any communication between the President that I considered to be confidential.


HAYES: But even Sessions could not agree with the President that the Russia investigation was a witch hunt.


KLOBUCHAR: The President has characterized this Special Counsel`s investigation as a witch hunt. Do you share that view of the Special Counsel`s work and do you still have confidence in the Special Counsel as you stated before the Intelligence Committee in June?

SESSIONS: Well, people are quite free in this country to express their views about matters of that kind. I`m just all prosecutor who says the process has to work its will.


HAYES: Joining me now is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a Member of the Judiciary Committee. Senator, did you feel that the Attorney General was sufficiently forthcoming before your Committee today?

KLOBUCHAR: There is clearly a lot of unanswered questions here, for instance, the firing of Jim Comey which is critical for the Judiciary Committee when you have an FBI Director fired when the President says it`s one thing. And then a few days later says no, it`s actually about Russia. So those questions obviously unanswered. And then, a number of us, this is our first time to be able to ask the Attorney General questions about this really enormous change in policy on everything from criminal justice to the immigration, refugees. There were a lot of questions about those where I think people would like to dig deeper into this enormous shift in policy from this Justice Department.

HAYES: There seems to be a central question here about the role the Attorney General may or may not have played in the firing of James Comey and the possibility that amounts to obstruction of justice as Special Prosecutors looking at. Are you confident that you can say that the Attorney General did not collude with the White House to obstruct justice?

KLOBUCHAR: You know, I don`t know the answer to that question because we didn`t get all of the questions answered. But what I do know is that I asked him specifically about whether he still believes that this investigation should be allowed to continue. I specifically said, do you agree with the President that this is nothing but a witch hunt. He pretty much implied he did not agree that it was a witch hunt and that you should allow these investigations to take place. And I thought that was very important because you know, Chris, this summer it seemed as though the Attorney General was close to being fired by the President simply because of this investigation that would have set off these dominos to the Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and others. And really the entire Senate stood up and said no, this is not going to be another Saturday Night Massacre.

HAYES: You had an exchange with him about journalists and the press and the DOJ`s posture toward prosecuting them. I`d like to play that and get your reaction to it. Take a listen.



KLOBUCHAR: Would you commit to not putting reports in jail for doing their jobs?

SESSIONS: Well, I don`t know that I could make a blanket commitment to that effect. But I will say this. We`ve not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point but we have matters that involved the most serious national security issues that put our country at risk and we will utilize the authorities that we have legally and constitutionally if we have to.


HAYES: What did you make of at this point?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I really ask that question because that`s exactly what Attorney General Holder had said, that you don`t put reporters in jail for doing their jobs when it`s news gathering. And what`s happened with this administration is they`re starting to review their subpoena process regarding the media back in August. I am concerned about this and we have him now on the record with saying you know, they haven`t taken any major change in action but we`re concerned about it. And the second thing I asked him about, of course, was something to do with NBC and that was the threats by the President to revoke licenses over content.

We now have been able to get Chairman Pai of the FCC on the record saying that no, they would not be doing something like that. But I just think part of our jobs right now, we`re emergency break. Stress test every day for the constitution and one of the major things we need to do is protect the first amendment right for news gathering. My dad was a reporter his whole life and I care a lot about this issue. And I don`t want you to go to jail, Chris.

HAYES: Thank you, Senator. I appreciate that as well. Let me -- let me ask you -- let me ask you this finally. There`s a piece of legislation that pertains to the Russian efforts and the Russian efforts to disrupt. You have introduced legislation along with Senator Warner, I think John McCain has co-sponsored to essentially require a kind of transparent labeling of advertising by platforms like Facebook so that you can stamp out foreign advertising influence. What is the idea here?

KLOBUCHAR: This is a really big deal and we are unveiling this tomorrow. And it is a bipartisan bill with Senator Warner and Senator McCain. What this is about, it`s a national security issue first of all. We`ve now learned that at least $100,000 in rubles was spent with one online company alone to actually buy ads to influence the American Election. Last time I checked we`re supposed to be self-governing and our democracy shouldn`t be influenced by foreign powers. It`s also an issue of fairness. We have got now $1.4 billion spent on online ads in the last election.

Money is migrating over there and yet NBC or CNN or any of the networks, when you buy an ad on there as a politician or even an issue ad, you`ve got to register the ad. It`s in a public file. People can look at it. Not true about this online ads. We`re simply taking those rules, applying them online. I think it`s hard for people to object to this but I`m sure they will. It is the right thing to do for our democracy and we don`t have much time to get it done before the next election.

HAYES: Thank you, Senator. I appreciate you making time tonight.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

HAYES: MSNBC Contributor Jill Wine-Banks and MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman are both former Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutors. They join me now to review that marathon session Sessions have. Let me start with you, Nick. It`s -- someone remarkably hasn`t been before that Committee for so long. I mean, it`s the Oversight Committee and they`ve sort of dodged and delayed and you could tell the Senators were loaded to bare. What struck you today watching?

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think what struck me is that this whole hearing in his appearance there, and what he said was exhibit A, as to why he should not be our Chief Legal Officer. It`s absolutely disgraceful. First of all, he gets up there, they ask him questions about his conversations with Trump regarding Comey. He was asked that five -- four months ago in another Committee Hearing, he was put on notice he would be asked the same thing. He asserted the same kind of vague confidentiality clause which I don`t know where that comes from.

HAYES: Yes, there`s a -- what is the legal -- I mean, what is he citing there that stops you from being able to answer.

AKERMAN: Himself. And his knowledge that he knows that the Republican Chairman of the Committee is not going to go before a Federal District Court and ask for a contempt citation and force him to testify. I mean, he has no right to do that. I mean, it was all wishy-washy. And then he goes on, they asked him -- Senator Feinstein asked him what justification he has to represent Donald Trump in these emolument cases. There are three of them where Donald Trump has basically been getting money from foreign countries in violation of the emoluments clause through his hotel in Washington D.C. This is his own personal stuff.

HAYES: And he`s -- and he`s marshaled the Justice Department as the -- as the sort of legal entity of the United States to defend him in those suits.

AKERMAN: Right, because he`s too cheap to go out and hire his own lawyer. That`s what`s going on here.

HAYES: Jill, what struck you watching Sessions today?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think the same things that were bothering Nick bothered me. I do think it`s outrageous that the Congress will let him continue to say, well I can`t answer because of confidentiality. There is no such thing. There`s executive privilege and that has to be invoked by the President. And if the President doesn`t invoke it, he can`t refuse to answer questions. And the President hasn`t. So someone needs to force the President to say he can testify or I`m invoking executive privilege. But even executive privilege is not unfettered. Executive privilege does not apply if they were discussing something that`s criminal. And in this case, that`s quite a possibility.

HAYES: Well, that`s what -- that`s what struck today as I was reviewing the transcript and these questions about Comey`s firing, and he gave the same cover story that I think has been obviously shown to be in bad faith, about the, you know, that he was too hard on Hillary Clinton essentially. Then you have here the Chief Legal Officer as Nick put it up of the country, it`s an open question whether he was embroiled in a conspiracy to criminally obstruct justice. And that just stuck out to me, Jill, how much we`ve all just sort of put that in the back of our heads

BANKS: Well, you know, the President does something almost every day to divert our attention from yesterday`s bad news. And so, it`s very hard to keep on with the old bad news when he does new bad news. And I think it`s you know, it would be really interesting to have an hour-long program with this is the worst week ever and then look at the week before when we said, this is the worst week ever and the week before that, that was the worst week ever because he keeps doing things that are outrageous. And it`s not just in connection with Russia but in how he treats our servicemen and our -- the families of deceased servicemen. He has shown absolutely no respect. And this is a man who`s complaining that people who are protesting racial injustice are not showing respect when they kneel in front of the flag when he won`t even call the parents of deceased service members. That is outrageous. So we keep getting lost in the bad news every day.

HAYES: We have more on that story coming up in just a bit. The reminder today of watching Sessions was -- the sort of parallel investigation to Mueller of obstruction and then the sort of possibility of collusion, the facts on the obstruction case are essentially all known.

AKERMAN: Pretty much. That`s right.

HAYES: I mean that`s what -- when I watched him (INAUDIBLE) I thought, well, we actually -- everything sort of entered into the record from all parties on what was going on here.

AKERMAN: Yes, and I think there`s more. I mean, that`s why Sessions isn`t telling the whole truth.

HAYES: Right.

AKERMAN: That`s why he`s hiding behind the stakes.

HAYES: Do you think he has legal exposure?

AKERMAN: He could. Absolutely. He wouldn`t be the first Attorney General to go to prison. I mean, there is no question that he at least at a minimum was involved as an eyewitness to an obstruction of justice. He was there when Donald Trump gave him all kinds of crazy reasons why he was going to fire Comey. He gave him the pretext, he was the pretext to use initially with that letter and then Donald Trump finally had to come clean say, oh, no, it wasn`t the letter. I really wanted to get rid of him because -- as he admitted to Lester Holt -- the Russia investigation.

HAYES: So Jill, the answer that we played where Sessions tells Senator Leahy that he`s not been connected by Mueller. That was surprising to me. I imagine he`s telling the truth because he`s not going to purger himself. Was that surprising to you?

BANKS: Well, I`m not even willing to say he wouldn`t purger himself.

HAYES: I guess, fair enough.

BANKS: But you know, assuming that he isn`t, it`s not surprising. I mean, Mr. Mueller has to take witnesses in a logical order and I don`t know what the investigation is showing and where Sessions would be in terms of when he wanted to interview him. He clearly is someone that if I were Mueller, I`d want to be interviewing because he has been a participant in so many episodes that relate to obstruction of justice. And I think you were right when you said the facts are pretty clear and when I was asked in May whether I could make an obstruction of justice case, I said, I think I could. And if you asked me that today, I`m sure I could.

HAYES: And you are not alone in that. I got to say, Brookings Institution published something on this. A lot of lawyers I`ve spoken to think that there is just a case on its face. And I predict that will be a bomb that will drop at some point from the Mueller team, if I had to - if I had to bet. Jill Wine-Banks and Nick Akerman, thank you.

BANKS: Thank you.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, a shocking new reporting the President offered the grieving father of a fallen soldier $25,000 and then he apparently didn`t follow through until three months later when reporters started asking the White House questions about it. That story in two minutes.



TRUMP: If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn`t make calls, a lot of them didn`t make calls. I like to call when it`s appropriate, when I think I`m able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call.


HAYES: President Donald Trump on Monday tried to use the deaths of soldiers killed in action to score points against his predecessors. Four American Servicemen were killed Niger earlier this month and the President was responding to criticism and questions about contacting the families more quickly. His false statements about the practices of his predecessors saying he didn`t think they ever called has now invited scrutiny of his own methods of offering condolences in these wrenching cases. The Washington Post spoke with families of 13 Americans killed in action this year. Some families had spoken with the President and were grateful to him, others were upset that they have not been called. And one man told an entirely different story.

Army Corporal Dillon Baldridge was killed in Afghanistan on June 10th and the President called the Corporal`s father Chris Baldridge, and the conversation took a bizarre turn. According to the Post, "President Trump in a personal phone call to a grieving military father offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family." The Post adding, "He said I`m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000 and I was floored," Baldridge said, "I cannot believe he was saying that and I wish I had recorded it because the man did say this." He said no other President has ever done something like this, but he said, I`m going to do it. But when the condolence letter arrived, "I opened it up and read it, and I was hoping to see a check in there, to be honest, the father said, I know it was kind of farfetched thinking but I was like damn no check, it`s just a letter saying I`m sorry.

In a response to the Washington Post today, the White House said the check has been sent. It`s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture made privately by the President and using it to advance the media`s biased agenda. And the White House tells NBC News the check was sent "recently" but Chris Baldridge told us today the check has not been received. Iraq War Veteran, Jon Soltz, the Chairman of the advocacy group and I don`t even really know where to start with this story or this news cycle frankly but your reaction to the story that we just told.

JON SOLTZ, CHAIRMAN, VOTEVETS.ORG: About the $25,000, very clearly that doesn`t surprise me at all. We`ve been here before. We were here during the presidential campaign. Donald Trump stood up at a debate, insulted Megyn Kelly, sexually harassed here during the contrary, and during the next Fox debate, he doesn`t want to go. He doesn`t want to go because she`s there. So he decides he`s going to boycott and he`s going to give a million dollars to veterans groups so he didn`t go. And that was the big fight. And you know, then we had this huge conversation of, OK, who are the groups he`s going to give to and finally the Washington Post says in expose months later and find out he never gave the money. So then, after he`s exposed by the Washington Post, he gives the money. So he has a long history of thinking that money is an answer to show his support for the Armed Forces and it`s par for the course for him. And this is very consistent with behavior that we saw last year when he ran for president.

HAYES: The reason that we`re trapped in this hellish news cycle and I have to say I just find it almost sort of too awful to really talk about because we have the situation which at the center of it are people who are going through unimaginable grief, who have lost loved ones, whose politics I think run the gamut frankly from people that oppose the President to support him, who are being invoked now at the White House`s precipitation, frankly, in this kind of political battle. And it`s really started with these four service members who were killed in Niger. And Sargent La David Johnson was called by the President yesterday, fairly clearly prompted, and I want to play what the Congresswoman who was in the -- in the car during that call says happened and the President and get your reaction to it. Take a listen.


REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: Sarcastically he said but you know he must have known what he signed up for. Like, how could you say that to a grieving widow?


TRUMP: I didn`t say what that Congresswoman said. I didn`t say it at all. She knows it and she now is not saying it. I did not say what she said. And I`d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said.


HAYES: Congresswoman I should say said that I will stand by my account of the call between real Donald Trump and Myeshia Johnson, that`s her name, Mr. Trump, not that woman or the wife. What do you make of this?

SOLTZ: It`s infuriating. I mean, that`s a man who didn`t go to Vietnam because he has bone spurs but he went to a golf course like five times from the time that soldiers died Niger from the time that he called the family. So it`s appalling and I think more importantly he thinks that these kids are his toy soldiers. There`s not a person I know who has signed up for the Armed Forces of the United States to fight or to just die. No one signs up and says, hey, I`m going to the recruiter today because I want to go to Niger and die in a foreign country. They sign them up to fight for the Constitution and to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.

And a real Commander in Chief understands that the people in the Armed Forces, you know, they don`t serve him. He serves us. He is our Commander in Chief in this country and I think that`s a basic principle that you learn when you serve in the Armed Forces. I think it`s also frightening looking forward. You know, you can watch General Milley`s comments, the Army Chief of Staff about the current situation in Korea. There`s kids fighting and dying all over the world right now. U.S. troops died in Niger, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Libya under President Trump and where`s Congress in this scenario? So if this guy thinks that these kids sign up to just fight and die, you`re going to have a lot more kids die because half of this Army is concerned about being sent to North Korea because he can`t control himself on Twitter right now. And so, you could potentially see if that`s his attitude, tens of thousands of Americans die in conflicts throughout his term if Congress doesn`t step in and trim his authorities.

HAYES: I want to play for you a really remarkable interview my colleague did with a Gold Star Family earlier today and then get your response to it. Take a listen.


SHEILA MURPHY, LOST HER SON IN SYRIA: This is what happens when people, our young people go over there to fight for our country that they love so much. We`re the aftermath. We`re the casualties of war. My daughter-in- law, my grandchildren, my son, my daughter-in-laws, they`re the casualties of war. The young people, those soldiers coming back with PTSD, they`re the casualties of war. So it`s not really about whether or not a person may have called or did something more than the previous one, it`s about what are you doing now to help those who are left behind. If that letter or that phone call could bring my son back, I would run from here on foot to Washington, D.C. to get that letter. But right now, it really doesn`t matter who did the greatest thing. What matters right now is that people remember my child.


HAYES: To your point, Jon, and I thought that was just so sort of powerfully stated, that what she`s focused on is people remembering her son and thinking about the consequences of what we`re doing and where we are fighting.

SOLTZ: Yes. I don`t -- you know, the people who serve in the war, they don`t -- they don`t win or lose, and their families don`t win or lose. You know, nations can win and states can win and politicians win but the people who actually serve in the conflict, no matter if you`re on the winning side or the losing side, or the draw, the (INAUDIBLE), the people who serve and fight, they always pay the price forever and their families too. And you know, people`s interaction with Gold Star Families, it was very, you know, difficult for me.

I didn`t -- I didn`t go to Arlington Section 60 until last year until you know, our Gold Star Families, Director (INAUDIBLE) let me go with her. I just -- I didn`t have the courage to go because I think anyone who`s been in a conflict knows that the difference between life or death for them was you know, a mortar round here and (INAUDIBLE) here, and that could be anybody. But the sacrifice these families make forever it doesn`t end for them. It can end for the President but it doesn`t really end for them.

HAYES: All right, Jon Soltz, thank you.

SOLTZ: Thank a lot.

HAYES: Up next, the man who stands between Roy Moore and the U.S. Senate. But will Alabama elect a Democrat? A tight race right after this.


HAYES: A new poll out of Alabama has people taking another look at the special election to fill Jeff Sessions old Senate Seat. The final showdown on December 12 pits Republican Roy Moore, the theocratic former judge removed twice from office for defying a law, the man who said homosexuality should be illegal and Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress, that guy against Democrat Doug Jones, former U.S. Attorney, prosecuted Klan members responsible for the Birmingham church bombing that killed four little girls in 1963. Now in deep red Alabama, Moore is heavily favored to win. But the race may be closer than he`d like.

According to a pretty surprising new Fox News poll, the two candidates are now dead even, tied at 42 percent among registered voters. If Jones were able to pull this upset off, a Democratic victory in Alabama would be the biggest special election upset since Scott Brown`s shocking win in 2009 when he took the seat previously held by Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion on the senate in the bluest of the blue Massachusetts at a time of unified Democratic control in Washington.

And just a few months later, Republicans across the country were swept into power in those 2010 midterms, what President Obama referred to at the time as a shellacking.

In Alabama, Moore has faced ethics questions about the management of his charitable foundation and the checks it cut to him, including a new report that it once took a donation from an outright Nazi group.

Meanwhile, Moore`s Democratic opponent raised managed to raise over $1 million since entering the race in May. And if the Democrats can win in Alabama, there`s a good choice it would redraw the map entirely heading into 2018.

The man who could make that happen, Senate candidate Doug Jones, joins me next.



ROY MOORE, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE, ALABAMA: False religions, like Islam, who teach that you must worship this way, are completely opposite to what our first amendment stands for.


HAYES: Does the first amendment apply to false religious like Islam? Well, unclear, according to Republican Roy Moore. That`s the man who is now on track to be the next U.S. senator from Alabama unless my next guest is able to beat him on election day.

And joining me now is Doug Jones, Democratic Senate candidate in Alabama.

Mr. Jones, to people who look at a state that Donald Trump won by 28 points, that`s at deep red as can be, what is your elevator pitch to them that this is not an entirely fool`s errand that you`re o, that a Democrat can actually win statewide?

DOUG JONES, DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE, ALABAMA: Well, I ask them to look at the issues. I mean, it`s what we`ve called the kitchen table issues -- the issues of health care, jobs, the economy, it`s the things that will people talk about every day.

We have seen that from one end of the state to the other. And I think the health care debate really got people focused on issues. They saw that their health care was about to be taken away. It was going to be emasculated by the bills that were pending in congress. They rose up to talk about it, and I think that people are now looking at issues rather than parties, and I think that`s really important to us, and it`s going to help us win in December.

HAYES: Would you have been a no vote on repeal and replace when it came before the senate?

JONES: Absolutely. Any bill that I saw that came out would have really hurt the people of Alabama.

I mean, look, we`re a very poor state. We`re an unhealthy state. We need to make sure that we keep Medicaid. We need to make sure that preexisting conditions stay in. And I would have been a no vote on those.

What I want people to do is start talking to each other, reaching across the aisles a little bit so that they to work together to get the health care system fixed.

HAYES: I know your most recent ad is about working with Republicans. There was a short lived, it looked like, bipartisan fix from Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, which the president went back and forth on. Would you support that based on what you`ve seen?

JONES: Just based on what I was seeing, it was at least a good step, at least you had a Republican and the Democrat talking to each other because they understood the dynamics, and they understood how bad that executive order was going to hurt people across this country, so it was at least a start.

I didn`t know all the details. It really was so short-lived, it appears that the details really didn`t get out. But that`s the kind of efforts that need to take place in Washington.

HAYES: Roy Moore is someone who is well known to the folks in your state. He`s a long career. He`s famous and infamous. When you talk to people in Alabama about what it would mean for him to represent them in the U.S. Senate, what do they tell you?

JONES: Well they`re telling me that they`re tired of a career politician who really can`t hold a job. That`s number one. Because he`s had a career, but it`s been interrupted twice because he was removed from office as a judge, as chief justice. So, they`ve seen his extreme views and they don`t like him. I mean, that is not what Alabama is about, that`s not what our people are about.

We`re a very caring people. We care about each other. I think people are looking at issues. They don`t want more chaos in Washington. They see a dysfunctional congress. They don`t like it. They want somebody who can bridge those gaps, find common ground, that`s what I think the people in Alabama, and really across the country, are looking for.

HAYES: Do you think that Roy Moore has said things that should disqualify him essentially from being a United States Senator?

JONES: Well, you know, that`s up to the electorate. I don`t think in pure qualifications that`s not the case.

I think the electorate is going to vote to disqualify him. They`re not going the like those extremist views. They`re not going to like the fact he has taken money from a charity when he says one thing and does another. they don`t like the fact it`s a personal agenda more than anything else.

So, I think it`s the electorate that`s going to disqualify him rather than any legal standard.

HAYES: All right, Senate candidate Doug Jones, thanks for making time.

JONES: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, what you need to know about Stephen Miller, the hard right adviser that has the ear of the president. Plus, with the fastest way to the president`s heart in Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, flattery will get you everywhere. The quickest way to the president`s heart has been well document, just tell him how great he is. That`s why Vice reports his staff hands him a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day, which would, of course, make anyone feel good. It`s also why The New York Times reported that foreign officials have adopted certain rules with engaging with the president, like compliment him on his electoral college victory, contrast him favorably with Barack Obama.

That`s why we saw that incredible scene at the first full cabinet meeting when attendees took turns praising President Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to thank you for getting this country moving again and also working again. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t thank you enough for the privilege that you`ve given me, the leadership that you`ve shown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you have given us to serve your agenda and the American people.


HAYES: The flattery tactic is about more than just trying to keep the president happy. It`s a key strategy to persuade him to come around to your point of view on things.

And today we learned that Republican Senator Lamar Alexander has become a Jedi Master. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: The 24 hours after news broke that a bipartisan health care deal has been struck by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray, the president said he was for it, then against it, then for it, then against it again.

So this morning, one of the deals that the architects tried to get the president to flip back to for it and Lamar Alexander thought he knew just how to do it. Appeal to the president`s deal making ego and flatter him.


LAMAR ALEXANDER, (R) SENATOR OF TENNESSEE: He called me this morning. It`s the third conversation we`ve had. I said, I`m about to go into a meeting to give you a lot of credit. Some people think you don`t know what you`re doing around Washington. I think you do, particularly on health care, because you cleared the way in September for us to have a vote on repeal and replace by the agreement that you made with the speaker and Mitch McConnell.

And then now you`ve caused us to create a bipartisan option for the short term and you`ve reserved for yourself the right to continue to advocate repealing and replacing Obamacare.


HAYES: Got to tip your cap to that.

Did it work? Unclear. Largely depends on who was in line to flatter Trump next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: It is a fact and you will not deny it that there are massive numbers of noncitizens in this country who are registered to vote. That is a scandal. We should stop the presses and as a country, we should be aghast.


HAYES: Not a fact, first of all. But the moment many people first met 32 year old White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller, who was back in February when he made instantly infamous appearances on all four Sunday shows.


MILLER: That`s the story we should be talking about. I`m prepared to go on any show, anywhere, anytime and repeat it and say that the President of the United States is correct, 100%.


HAYES: After that, Miller did not go on any show anytime ever again basically. Well, except for Fox News.

But just because Miller was largely out of the public eye doesn`t mean he wasn`t a powerful force behind the scenes. Even as Miller`s ideological ally, Steve Bannon and many other Trump aides have been given their pink slips, Miller has endured, becoming one of the most influential voices in the White House, where he pushes hard right policies on immigration and helps craft some of the president`s incendiary speeches.

So how did Stephen miller get to that point? Well, the story starts back in high school.


MILLER: Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a high school student in left leaning Santa Monica, California, Stephen Miller delighted in provoking his classmates.

MILLER: I only hope that many of my peers and people who will be leading this country will appreciate the value and respect that torture shows those other cultures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In editorials and on conservative talk radio, Miller railed against what he saw as political correctness. Classmates and counselors say he was particularly incensed at hearing Spanish being spoken.

OSCAR DE LA TORRE, FORMER COUNSELLOR: He seemed to feel that the growth of the countries diversity was the downfall of the country. He really did believe that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Later at Duke University, Miller became a defender of lacrosse players falsely accused of rape.

MILLER: We are at a terrible dearth of intelligent, common sense, courageous voices on campus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White nationalists Richard Spencer says he became a mentor to Miller during their time together at Duke, something Miller denies.

After graduation, Miller would go on to write speeches for then Senator and future Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It`s becoming more and more clear that we have chaos at the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had also become a regular on Steve Bannon`s Briebart radio show.

STEVE BANNON, BRIETBART: When you look and there`s 61 million, 20% of the country is immigrants, is that not a massive problem?

You were with Jeff Sessions for many, many, many years. Is that not the beating heart of this problem?

MILLER: It`s mind-boggling and something that obviously I have talked about before at some length on your program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Soon after joining the Trump campaign in early 2016, Miller was helping write the candidate`s speeches, even serving as his bombastic warm-up act.

MILLER: Everything that is wrong with this country today, the people opposing Donald J. Trump are responsible for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump took Miller with him to the White House, made him a key architect of the travel ban. When the ban was blocked by the courts, it was Miller who went before the cameras.

MILLER: Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn`t just the travel ban. Miller became the face of the president`s entire immigration agenda. At one point famously questioning the value of the poem on the statue of liberty.

MILLER: The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty enlightening the world. It is a symbol of American liberty enlightening the world. The poem that you`re referring to was added later, it wasn`t actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.


HAYES: There is so much more to know about the 32 year old from the White House. The author of the profile, Stephen Miller, published in The New York Times joins me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


MILLER: I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It actually -- it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.


HAYES: Joining me now to discuss White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller`s rapid ascent, and role in the White House is NYU visiting scholar and MSNBC political analyst, Anand Giridharadas, and reporter, Matt Flegenheimer, who`s author to the must read profile of Stephen Miller in The New York Times.

What did you hear from folks that know him?

MATT FLEGENHEIMER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think you hear this as a continuation of a life lived for a while really on the fringes of Republican life. He was an aide to Jeff Sessions in the Senate, he was an ally of Steve Bannon`s early on at Brietbart and these are the sorts of people who have become prominent voices for president at this moment.

HAYES: He`s also an adolescent troll. His shtick is, he`s in liberal places, he grows up in Santa Monica where he is like, in your face, you guys are wrong. And has been doing that and sharpening that knife for his whole adult life.

FLEGENHEIMER: It happened in high school and it happened at Duke. He became the most prominent student defender of the players in the Duke lacrosse case. He was the only person willing to go on cable television throughout that case, very early on before the case crumbles. Certainly he thinks he was vindicated and in some measures he was.

He was eagerly telegenic face of that on campus.

HAYES: There`s one detail, I want to get your opinion, about the track meet. Tell us that detail about the track meet you did not make it in. Just really is worth 1,000 words.

FLEGENHEIMER: So Stephen Miller was tennis player in high school, but there was a day -- this is more high school prank, not conservative ideology, nothing is conservative about charging into a girls track meet.

There`s a race going on, I think it`s at a different high school according to the White House, but he is participating and he charges in Rosie Ruiz style at last minute to race the girls.

HAYES: To show that they`re inferior?

FLEGENHEIMER: Can`t get inside his mind as 16 or 17-year-old, but sort of, kind of prankster provocateur shtick that`s his life.

HAYES: And is now a central part of American conservative I think. Conservatism as trolling is now a central part of what the movement is about.

ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, MSNBC: And not just him, these are men, and they are overwhelmingly men, who clearly have a profound neurosis around sinking in a world in which women and minorities are powerful, who project that anxiety into hatreds that don`t even give us the satisfaction of being genuine hate to them. They`re phony hatred.

Many people who are Jewish in this administration who are playing with this anti-Semitic fire. There are people who grew up in relatively diverse places like him who -- you know, Donald Trump is from Manhattan. A Manhattan Democrat.

HAYES: There is something connecting that too. Steve Bannon is Goldman Sachs, Harvard and Hollywood, right? And he`s the voice of middle America.

GIRIDHARADAS: And so what I would just say to the people who felt entranced by these people, they are playing you. They are fantasizing about your racism, they are projecting racism on to you to try to animate a grievance to protect their rich friends.

HAYES: And yet, he`s a true believer. That`s true I think, but he`s also a true believer in that this is his deal.

FLEGENHEIMER: And going back some time. This was someone early on, going into high school he was reading -- this was someone who was very much a true believer, whether it was sort of shtick at times at times in high school, he`s teenager.

HAYES: It`s all shtick when you`re 16.

FLEGENHEIMER: And supporters of the president`s on his base really do see him as their foremost ally now that Steve Bannon is gone.

HAYES: And the fact is this individual, reporting suggests has almost single-handedly killed DACA deal that holds the fate of 800,000 people in his hand, and has helped reduce by tens of thousands the amount of refugees that have come to this country.

GIRIDHARADAS: And what`s striking, his family came as immigrants in early 20th century. All of these people have a desire to destroy the very things that allowed them to have good lives in this country. They take pleasure from pulling up that ladder and that kind of sadism, it exists in every society, it is so disheartening.

Someone like me who deeply loves this country, to see it in highest levels of leadership in this extraordinary country.

HAYES: And particularly, I think one of the other striking things about this guy, this was not a power player in Washington, he doesn`t have some developed sense of he expertise.

But in the policy vortex that is the White House, you end up with Stephen Miller, who is that guy from your high school deciding the fates of people fleeing the horrors of war in Syria because this is where we`ve ended up.

Anand Giridharadas and Matt Flegenheimer, thank you both.

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

Good Evening, Rachel.


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