Nearly one-third in Puerto Rico lack water at home Transcript 10/19/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Jack Reed, Ted Lieu, Natasha Bertrand

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 19, 2017 Guest: Jack Reed, Ted Lieu, Natasha Bertrand

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Let`s see how the General`s words go over overnight as everybody absorbs them. Certainly, he sounded better today than the President has at any time. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn`t make calls.

HAYES: The President hands off his political firestorm to the generals.

TRUMP: My generals are going to keep us so safe.

HAYES: Tonight, how the White House Chief of Staff tried to contain the President`s controversy and what we`re learning about what happened in Niger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that you know enough about the deaths of the four soldiers in Niger?


HAYES: Then --

TRUMP: A thing like that should have never been written.

HAYES: Why the President is blaming the FBI for the Steel Dossier. Plus - -

TRUMP: I`d say it was a 10. I would give 10. I`d give ourselves a 10.

HAYES: The scene in the Oval Office when Puerto Rico`s governor wouldn`t echo the President`s perfect self-assessment.

TRUMP: Did we do a great job?

HAYES: And what it looked like when President Obama returned to the campaign trail today.

AMERICAN CROWD: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

HAYES: WHEN ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Two weeks after four American soldiers died while serving in the West African Nation of Niger, a lot of questions remain about the circumstances of their deaths. In fact, it was a question to the President about why he had not yet talked to the public about those deaths that prompted him earlier this week to mischaracterize how his predecessors handled similar situations.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We haven`t heard anything from you so far about the soldiers that were killed in Niger and what do you have to say about that?

TRUMP: I`ve written them first of all letters. They`ve been sent or they`re going out tonight. But they were written during the weekend. I will at some point during the period of time called the parents and the families. The traditional way if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn`t make calls, a lot of them didn`t make calls.


HAYES: Those comments by the President kicked off an entire news cycle focused who how he treats the families of fallen service members known as Gold Star Families, compounded by reports close relatives of one of the soldiers killed in Niger, that would be Sergeant La David Johnson, seen there, felt the President had disrespected their fallen loved one. In the meantime, we`ve learned few details about the ambush that took place that took four American lives, including how it was that Sergeant Johnson ended up missing for almost two days before his body was recovered. Today the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for answers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does the Committee need to know in terms of details --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you be more specific?

MCCAIN: Everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What steps are you taking Senator, to get to the bottom of this? What steps will you take for the community --

MCCAIN: It may require a subpoena.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel the administration has been forthcoming up to this point about what happened there?

MCCAIN: Of course not.


HAYES: Under fire for his conduct as Commander in Chief, today the President sent out three generals to run interference. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army Lieutenant General, Defense Secretary James Mattis, retired Marine General, and Chief of Staff John Kelly, also a retired Marine General, all of whom now hold some of the highest positions in this country`s civilian leadership. While McMaster told the National Security Conference that the Pentagon probe will eventually provide answers, Mattis seemed to downplay the significance of the investigation.


JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We investigate any time we have our troops killed, whether it be in training accidents or combat. I don`t care if it`s in a car accident. In DOD, we investigate the circumstances surrounding and see how we can address the very questions you brought up about what can we do in the future. At the same time, war is war.


HAYES: Later in the White House Press Room, Chief Of Staff John Kelly, whose own son was killed in Afghanistan, gave an emotionally raw and at times aggressive defense of the President`s conduct this week, including what the President said to the family of Sergeant La David Johnson.


KELLY: You know what the possibilities were because we`re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we`re talking about, Niger, my son`s case in Afghanistan, when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends. That`s what the President tried to say to a -- to four families the other day.


HAYES: That actually, we should note, confirms an account of the President`s call to Johnson family that was given by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who was with the family listening on the speakerphone when the President called. The President, by contrast, had called Wilson a liar tweeting, "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in account, and I have proof, sad." But despite backing up the basics of her account, Kelly went on to attack the Congresswoman, who first met Sergeant Johnson years ago when he took part in a mentoring program that she had founded.


KELLY: It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation, absolutely stuns me. Let`s not let this may be the last thing that`s held sacred in our -- in our society, a young man, young woman, going out and giving his or her life for our country. Let`s try to somehow keep that -- keep that sacred. But it eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of Congress.


HAYES: Kelly made no mention of Sergeant Johnson`s wife or his mother, who told the Washington Post "President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband." For the latest on what we know about what happened in Niger, let`s go to NBC Pentagon Correspondent Hans Nichols. And Hans, how much of a timeline of what exactly happened, where they were, and how they were killed have we -- have we been able to construct?

HANS NICHOLS, NBC NEWS PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we`ve been piecing together bit by bit and we`re doing this at the same time as today there`s a formal investigation that`s taking place. What we know is that on the 4th around dusk you had about eight to 12 U.S. forces, they`re Special Forces, Green Berets, but there also some drivers, some mechanics that were in there. They left their vehicles to go into a village. About eight of them went into this village is what is we basically think. And that when they were coming out of that village, they may have been delayed in that village, coming out of that village, they were ambushed by a much larger force that was hiding in the brush there. RPGs they had, machine guns, small arms fire as well. They returned fire.

Now here`s where things get a little fuzzy. About 30 minutes into it, we know that French mirages were overhead, that`s a pretty fast time, that`s 30 minutes in and they provide what`s called close air support. They were armed. They didn`t end up dropping their munitions. We don`t know if they just flew over and scattered these Islamic extremists that were attacking the Americans. And then somewhere in the chaos of battle, the term that you keep hearing in the Pentagon is separated, that La David Johnson was separated from the other troops, the other forces there. There`s an evacuation at first, some French helicopters come in, they evacuate the wounded. And then the dead -- remember, there are two -- there three American dead. They are evacuated by an American contractor. We don`t know the timing of either the medevac, which usually they try to do that in the first hour or the evacuation of the deceased as well.

And then 48 hours later, the Nigerian forces -- partner forces find La David Johnson. Now, I should note that immediately they realize that he was missing, a massive, massive military operation, special op operators coming in from all across the globe were flying in there. It ended up being the Nigerians that found La David Johnson and not say, a Special Forces team from the states or Somalia or elsewhere. That`s where we`re at now. We`re still trying to learn more but that`s as best -- as far as I know what I can report.

HAYES: All right, NBC`s Hans Nichols has been covering this for us, thanks for that report.

Senator Jack Reed is a Democrat from Rhode Island and the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senator, do you feel like you in your role as ranking member on that Committee have a good sense of what actually happened in Niger?

SEN. JACK REED (D-RI), RANKING MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: No, I don`t think there has been a good presentation by the Department of Defense or others with respect to what happened. I think that`s a feeling that`s shared by Chairman John McCain also. And we are pursuing the issue and we will find what happened and what steps the department is taking to ensure or minimize the possibility of it happening again.

HAYES: Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis today seemed to sort of express some frustration that people weren`t being patient, kind of you know, we`re going to look into it, we`re investigating, hold your horses. The rank -- the Chair of your Committee, John McCain, has expressed his frustration that DOD has not been more forthcoming. Do you share that?

REED: I do share that. We understand that this is a very complicated situation, all the facts, and all the details. But I think they should be aware of much more than they`ve officially communicated to us. And we`re going to ask for them very quickly and very soon to come here and tell us what they think happened and more importantly what they`re doing to prevent a further occurrence.

HAYES: There`s a broader question, there`s 1,500 American troops in the Sahel in that Region of West Africa if I`m not mistaken. We have folks in training missions around the world where they may be exposed to you know, coming under fire. Do you feel like this administration has, A, a comprehensive strategy it`s pursuing, and B, it`s been communicated to the American people where American men and women are fighting and risking death around the world?

REED: I don`t think so and I think part of that is a long-time interaction between our Special Forces, particularly Green Berets, and other militaries training them, et cetera. And what has happened is that now, because of the expansion of ISIS, particularly in different countries, there are threats that didn`t exist even months ago. And the administration has to be aware of that and has to take steps, not only to protect our servicemen and women, but also to inform the American public of where our forces are in general and what we`re doing to protect them.

HAYES: I remember during some of the years of the insurgency in Iraq and counterinsurgency doctrine, there was this fear of whack a mole that you would -- you would, you know, you would blow up one cell, you would -- you would raid one house, and then people would scatter and you`d constantly be chasing them. And I wonder if you think that`s a threat right now, as Raqqah is liberated, as ISIS is on the run from the sort of territorial ground it had if we see a scattering that ends up being even more difficult to combat.

REED: Well, I think you`re exactly right. I think what`s going to happen is that Isis will modify its behavior and (INAUDIBLE) controlled territory, they`ll go back to a more guerilla force. They will try to strike wherever they have an opportunity to strike and they will concentrate on very volatile situations where they get maximum publicity. And that`s now going to be their mode of operation. And that opens up the possibility, as we`ve seen in Niger, where what we consider to be a benign environment, training local forces, turns into something where we`re the subject of a very well- coordinated attack by ISIS.

HAYES: The President has three generals, retired generals, serving in civilian -- very high civilian positions. And we`ve seen them today sort of speaking for the President on matters of military doctrine and protocol. Do you worry at all that the principal civilian control is being eroded?

REED: What I would like to see is more individual civilians being confirmed for the Department of Defense. That is taking place. We just had a confirmation this week but we have to do more. That will help the situation with respect to civilian control. My sense, though, is knowing all of these individuals, General Mattis, General Kelly, General McMaster, they`re military officers but they have a ground dedication to the Constitution. They understand there are limits. They respect those limits. But again, I think getting people in place would be very helpful.

HAYES: All right, Senator Jack Reed, thank you for joining me.

REED: Thank you.

HAYES: All right, Malcolm Nance is an MSNBC National Security Analyst, former Senior Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy and Congressman Ted Lieu is Democrat from California who now holds the rank of Colonel in the Air Force Reserves. Congressman, let me begin with you. Do you have reaction to the Chief of Staff for the President saying essentially that a Democratic colleague of yours had violated the kind of sacredness of the grief of Gold Star Families?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Chris, for your question. Let me first say that in addition to La David Johnson, three other service members gave their lives, Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright. I don`t know what the President said or didn`t say to their families, but I think one of the best ways to honor their sacrifice is to have the Trump administration explain what happened in Niger, how can we make sure this doesn`t happen again, and why do we have 800 U.S. troops in that country? And that`s why I wrote a letter today to the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee asking for a hearing. And personally, I don`t have a problem if a Member of Congress wants to be with a Gold Star Family when the President calls.

HAYES: Malcolm, to the Congressman`s question, I mean, this -- you know, John Kelly said today, we`re at war and Jim Mattis said, war is war. I don`t think anyone knew we were at war in Niger. And the fact of the matter is, ISIS has now splintered -- or ISIS (INAUDIBLE) groups or AQIM have splintered in so many groups in so many places. You can imagine a scenario in which U.S. forces are actively fighting and being shot at in 60, 100 countries around the globe.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I believe the number is 146 countries around the globe, we`re carrying out military training missions or special operations assistance missions. What you`re looking at in the -- in the Sahel region, that`s sub-Saharan, just between the Saharan Desert and the Trans-Sahara is a training operation that`s been going on for years now called Flintlock. And the French have been carrying out combat operations as part of Operation Burkani.

What we`ve done is put assistance forces, special forces, ODAS, we have a drone base in Niger that`s been there for some time as a $100 million expansion of a base in Agadez, and we have been assisting these nations to stop the formulation of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and some of these new fledgling groups that are splintering off from Boko Haram and ISIS coming out of Libya. These missions have been going on for some time. What you`ve usually seen was attacks on hotels and terrorist attacks with U.S. forces generally responding with their sister forces in these local areas. What you`ve seen now is someone has gotten intelligence, saw our operations, ambushed us, and this is going to be the future. Everyone is going to be emboldened to come find us now.

HAYES: Congressman, are you confident about this administration`s stewardship of the -- what is this now-sprawling global war on terror, it`s not something they started, it`s something they`ve inherited, but they`ve expanded in many cases. And they`re talking about the possibility of military action in other theaters as well.

LIEU: Not at all, Chris. Look, this administration can`t even deliver safe drinking water to Puerto Rico, a territory we control and no one`s shooting at us. So no, I don`t have confidence. And keep in mind, Senator John McCain said this administration is not being upfront about what happened in Niger. It`s been over two weeks since those attacks. And I find it disturbing that the Secretary of Defense still doesn`t have all the information he needs to know what actually happened.

HAYES: Malcolm, what do you make of the President having the -- what he calls "my generals" out there today in the midst of what has -- I have to say been one of the most depressing and awful news cycles I can remember in a long time?

NANCE: Well, it`s awful principally because we`re at the two-week point since this ambush happened. There was -- as Washington Post was reporting, there was a letter of sympathy that was drafted up by the executive office within 24 hours that the White House would not put out. For someone who`s -- I`ve been on the battlefield, as American Senior NCO right? I`ve been out in that area where you`ve had to respond and get out and get your casualty assistance officers out in the field and back to the United States and repatriate remains. What I don`t understand is why did they feel this incident, which they would have known about within five minutes of the information reaching central forces -- I`m sorry, Africa Command or the local command out there through the critical communications structure that goes right to the President, why did they feel that this was just nothing special?

HAYES: Malcolm Nance and Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you both for joining me tonight.

Next, Democrats begin ringing the alarm after Politico breaks the news that President Trump is apparently taking the highly unusual step of personally interviewing U.S. Attorney candidates that would have jurisdiction over Trump Tower. That story in two minutes.


HAYES: Breaking news tonight. In a radical departure from precedent, the President of the United States is personally interviewing two people for U.S. Attorney jobs here in New York, including one who as Politico points out, would have jurisdiction over Trump Tower and be in a position to investigate the Trump administration. That would be the same job once held by now-former Prosecutor Preet Bharara who said he was fired by the President back in March after refusing to quit when Donald Trump ordered 46 U.S. prosecutors, holdovers from the Obama administration, to immediately resign. Now, at the time of his firing, Bharara was reportedly investigating Donald Trump`s pick for the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price. Bharara also said that the President kept trying to cultivate a relationship with him.


PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: So he called me in December, ostensibly just to shoot the breeze and asked me how I was doing and wanted to make sure I was OK. I didn`t say anything at the time to him, it was a little bit uncomfortable. But he was not the President, he was only the President-Elect. He called me again two days before the inauguration, again, seemingly to check in and shoot the breeze. And then he called me a third time when he became -- after he became President and I refused to return the call.


HAYES: Natasha Bertrand who`s written extensively on the Trump administration, Matt Miller, former Justice Department Spokesperson and MSNBC Justice and Security Analyst joining me now. Matt, I want to start with you. Did Barack Obama personally interview candidates to be U.S. Attorney?

MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST: No, never. He never did in the time I was at the Justice Department and I checked before coming on tonight with my -- with my former colleagues who handled those appointments after I left and they confirm that he never did. Look, the President has a lot of things to do. He doesn`t have time to interview 93 U.S. Attorneys or at least most Presidents don`t. And I think that`s why it`s notable that Donald Trump has chosen to interview these two U.S. Attorneys in New York, and as reported over the summer interviewed the U.S. Attorney Candidate for District of Columbia.

Those as you pointed out are the two U.S. Attorneys in New York who would have jurisdiction over any wrongdoing that might have occurred at Trump Tower or among his businesses there. And the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia would have jurisdiction over anything that happens at the White House. And why is it significant? So obviously Bob Mueller has the entire Russia probe. Anything that is Russia related these U.S. Attorneys wouldn`t handle. But anything else that many companies up, any other crimes that Donald Trump might have committed in the past or that he might commit in office, these U.S. attorneys would have jurisdiction. And the fact that he`s you know, taking a personal interest in who gets those jobs tells you he might be a little worried about that, which is unusual and somewhat surprising.

HAYES: Well, and there`s also this history of Preet Bharara here, right?

MILLER: Right.

HAYES: I mean, where Natasha, he said he was going to keep him on. You know, the President can do whatever he wants with U.S. attorneys, he can fire them or keep them on. He said he was going to keep them on, and then he didn`t.

NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: It was very abrupt. So Chuck Schumer actually made a request to President Donald Trump, apparently, asking him if Preet Bharara could stay on and then apparently Donald Trump said yes.

HAYES: They met during the transition --

BERTRAND: And they met --

HAYES: And said -- and he came out of Trump Tower and said, OK, I`m staying on, it`s all good.

BERTRAND: Right. And then the day before he was fired, he received a phone call from Donald Trump. He did not answer it because he said that it would have been inappropriate. And then the next day he was abruptly fired by Jeff Sessions.

HAYES: Along with everyone. And so there`s always been a lingering question Matt, whether the firing of all of the U.S. attorneys was essentially cover for wanting to get rid of Preet Bharara, who the President had agreed he was going to stay on.

MILLER: Yes, we`ve never gotten an answer to that. In fact, Jeff Sessions kind of odd in his hearing today, couldn`t even remember if he was personally involved, which was very strange for something as high profile as this. Look, there`s this disturbing pattern from the President. There are the contacts with Preet Bharara that he outlined in that interview you played. There these interviews with U.S. Attorney candidates.

There`s obviously the behavior with Jim Comey where he was trying to cultivate him asking him for a loyalty pledge. He has privately asked the Attorney General to drop a case and to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He`s publicly called for the Attorney General to investigate some things, not investigate others. There`s supposed to be a wall between the Justice Department and the White House, especially with respect to investigations that involve the White House. And the President has shown repeatedly he wants to breach that wall. He wants the Justice Department to be subordinate to him, not independent.

HAYES: Now, meanwhile, as the investigation continues, you have this sort of interesting effort that runs from Fox News to members -- Republican Members of Congress, to the President, who DVRs Fox And Friends then tweets it, apparently, where they`re attempting to sort of say, hey, stop talking about all this Russia stuff and the President, look over there at uranium purchase of the Clinton Foundation, which was actually broken by the New York Times in 2015. Look over there to who funded the alleged dossier. The President this morning even tweeting that maybe the FBI was behind paying for -- here it is -- workers of firm involved with the discredited and fake dossier take the fifth, who paid for it, Russia, the FBI, the Dems or all? What is he talking about?

BERTRAND: It`s actually a very Russian tactic, to just kind of throw anything at the wall and see what sticks. So in -- with regard to the dossier, he is kind of just you know, saying, was it the Dems, was it the FBI, kind of just casting doubt on the entire legitimacy of the whole -- you know, of the firm that produces the dossier, of Christopher Steel who wrote it. What he may be referring to is this report in the Washington Post that the FBI did apparently offer to pay Christopher Steele to continue his work. Because the FBI was so alarmed by the things that Christopher Steele was finding. They wanted him to continue it to see what else he could dig up and they essentially just wanted to make sure that nothing incredibly serious was happening.

HAYES: And now there`s this sort of a version that`s happening. Thanks to Devin Nunes, who is supposed to be recused from the House Intelligence Committee, and also Chuck Grassley in the Senate, Matt, in which there -- essentially sort of trying to pursue a kind of counter conspiracy theory that this was all a set up by this GPS firm.

MILLER: Yes, that`s right. Look, it`s unfortunate that the President you know, watches Fox. They were kind of main lines Fox And Friends every morning and their wackadoodle conspiracy theories go into his ears and out on his Twitter feeds but we`ve gotten used to it then. You expect a little more from Chuck Grassley who`s usually in his past -- in his past life has been an aggressive overseer of both Democratic and Republican administrations. And both he and Devin Nunes have been aggressively trying to undermine the FBI investigation, undermine the dossier. Instead of asking the fundamental question which is, are the allegations in this dossier true? They`ve repeatedly tried to go after the FBI and try to undermine their work -- the work they`re doing. And it`s you know, not really an appropriate exercise of Congressional oversight.

HAYES: And there`s a sort of counter -- you know, it extends, if people are not watching a lot of conservative media, there really is. I mean, there are programs that are leading with stories about whether it`s fusion or the Clintons in Russia. There`s this very invested effort to sort of build a kind of counter story.

BERTRAND: Oh, it`s very concerted. And I would also just point out that this started really with Devin Nunes back in March when he kind of went to the White House and was apparently briefed on this classified information that he wouldn`t tell anyone else about. None of his colleagues on the House Intel Committee knew what he was talking about. And it had to do with this unmasking narrative.

HAYES: Right, which by the way, the unmasking scandal, that was the old counter scandal, right?


HAYES: Like one of the first things they tried was, oh, there`s an unmasking scandal which you never hear about, because there wasn`t. But that was -- that was the initial intent was Devin Nunes creating an unmasking scandal.

BERTRAND: Right. And then of course, once these documents were actually reviewed by his colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, they determined that nothing improper was done. So --

HAYES: Right. So now here we are with playing the hits from 2015 in Uranium (INAUDIBLE). Natasha Bertrand and Matt Miller, thank you to you both.

BERTRAND: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Next, when it comes to the handling of the crisis in Puerto Rico, the President today gave himself a perfect score 10 of 10. We`ll show you what he said and how the Governor seemed to not quite agree, after this quick break.



TRUMP: At some point, FEMA has to leave, first responders has to leave, and people have to take over. Puerto Rico has a more difficult circumstance as you can understand, John. But at a certain point, we have to leave the various locations that we`re in.


HAYES: It has been a month since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the situation remains dire. Nearly 30 percent of the island`s residents, almost 1 million American citizens, still lack access to reliable, safe drinking water. 4 in 5 homes have no access to power, leaving around 2.7 million Americans in the dark every night when the sun goes down. Many forced to sleep in homes still decimated by the storm, some lacking roofs or even shield from the frequent rain. It is against that backdrop that President Trump appeared today with Puerto Rico`s Governor, Ricardo Rossello, in the Oval Office for what proved to be an excruciating 35 minutes in which the President was laser focused once again on perceptions of his own job.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between one and 10 how would you grade the White House response so far to the hurricane?

TRUMP: I`d say it was a 10. I give ourselves a 10. We have provided so much, so fast. We were actually there before the storm hit. I would give a 10.

I think we did a fantastic job, and we`re being given credit.

We have done a really great job. I think our response was better than anyone has ever seen.


HAYES: Asked if he also gave the response a 10, the Governor Rossello pointedly did not answer directly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, between 1 and 10, how do you grade the white house response?

ROSSELLO: As I said, the president has answered all of our petitions, and this is still ongoing, so we expect that that will continue.


HAYES: Later the president took it on himself to play journalist and once again Rossello declined to directly offer a positive assessment.


TRUMP: Did the United States, did our government, when we came in, did we do a great job? Military, first responders, FEMA? Did we do a great job?

ROSSELLO: You responded immediately, sir. And you did so, you know, Tom and Brock, they have been on the phone with me essentially every day since the disaster.

The response is there. Do we need to do a lot more? Of course we do.


HAYES: When we come back, Congressman Luis Gutierrez is in San Juan and will be with us next. That`s next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About four weeks after Hurricane Maria, it is still a desperate situation for many people here in Puerto Rico. The vast majority of the island, more than 80 percent, is still without power.

ROSSELLO: We are not considered in equal terms to Florida, Texas, Virgin Islands and so forth, then you start to -- you stand to be looking at a potential humanitarian crisis.

TRUMP: I think we did a fantastic job and we are being given credit.

I think our response was better than anyone has ever seen.


HAYES: Joining me, Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois whose family hails from Puerto Rico and who joins me from San Juan. First, Congressman, what is the situation like there right now?

LUIS GUTIERREZ, CONGRESSMAN OF ILLINOIS: Desperation. I met with people all day today. I would say there is a general sense of almost mourning when it comes to the sadness that is felt. The kind of mourning, you know, that you have lost your home. You have lost your way of life and you don`t see it coming back into the picture anytime soon.

The kind of mourning that comes, like, you can`t feed your children. Yeah there is water, but you got to go in a hose outside to bath and there is no electricity and the food is just really not there. People are thirsty and want more water.

I want to thank the people of Chicago. We went to Sams Club, we bought all the great stuff we could buy. We bought all the juices, and just everything we could buy, and we took it to Louisa, one town, tens of thousands of food straight from the counter to the people there. And now they have juices and fruit and hopefully it will bring them a little bit of hope as we evaluate.

But I`ve just got to say to you, think about it. I didn`t walk into a home -- and I walked into dozens of homes, there are no mattresses. I saw a quadriplegic young man on a wet mattress. That is unacceptable. You would not find that in Houston. You would not find that in Chicago. You would not find that in Jacksonville one month after, but that is the situation people live in here.

I saw people with -- why aren`t the tarps out there so that at least people could protect themselves a little bit better? I mean, look, I went to Louisa, just so that you understand, 498 homes were flattened. I saw many of them. 3,000 homes are uninhabitable. Where are those people going? Where are they? They`re with a neighbor, they`re with a friend, they`re in a shelter. That`s unacceptable after four weeks.

It`s really, really, really sad. I saw a lot of sadness and despair.

HAYES: Do you feel like you have an understanding -- it seems the two biggest obstacles to anything like normalcy is power restoration and clean water. And those really, if you look at the numbers that have been provided by the federal government or the Puerto Rican government, it`s kind of flat lined the last two weeks. It`s not getting better.

Do you feel like you have an understanding of what the obstacles are to getting power back, to getting everyone clean water, and how that can be overcome?

GUTIERREZ: Yeah. Taking the greatest, most powerful, richest nation in the world and acting like it. And bringing the resources to bear on this island.

Look, we can do this. You`re telling me we can`t set up the tents, we can`t set up the mobile homes? Even just a cot. Why do people have to sleep on the floor, cement floors? In all of these homes that I visited today? There are no mattresses. All you have to do is take a ride in your car. Don`t even enter the home, just look at the debris that is outside. And that`s where you see the sofas, that`s where you see the couches, that`s where you see all of the other things that make up a home.

I saw -- look, we can do this. We just don`t want to do it, for some reason. We just haven`t found ourselves capable of bringing to bear all of the riches that we have as a nation. It`s just something that shouldn`t be happening.

Let`s not treat Puerto Rico the way that we`re treating it. Let`s not treat the people of Puerto Rico, especially when we have so much. So everybody tonight that`s got electricity, everybody that`s got running water, and you know your kids are going to school tomorrow and your car`s going to start and there`s gasoline and there`s normalcy to your life, remember, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people that don`t have that stuff here in Puerto Rico.

And I would say, lastly, I want to say, why aren`t we taking people out of harm`s way? Look, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have been flown off this island to go to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, World War I, Korea, tens of thousands. Why can`t we fly tens of thousands of them to safe places until we can put them back on this island? Until there`s electricity. I don`t know why we`re doing that.

HAYES: That is a very good question that remains unanswered at this hour.

Congressman Gutierrez, thank you for being with me tonight.

Russian Twitter bots so believable they were retweeted by members of the Trump campaign and an unnamed cable news host, that story coming up.

And next, President Obama returns to the campaign stage in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two.

And have you liked our page on Facebook yet? Do it now, because we are live streaming behind the scenes at this very moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing One tonight, President Trump`s sole mission it often seems is to do anything that will undo the work of President Obama. There`s a long list of things President Trump has blamed on the former president, and Donald Trump isn`t happy with what he inherited.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To be honest, I inherited a mess. It`s a mess. At home and abroad. A mess. I just want to let you know. I inherited a mess.

This is the situation that I inherited. I inherited a mess, believe me.

And I have to just say that the world is a mess. I inherited a mess. I inherited a mess.


HAYES: Well, it just so happens that today the former president made his first campaign appearances since leaving office, and how the audience assessed the eight years of the Obama presidency? That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Former President Barack Obama making his first campaign appearances since leaving office, and while stumping for New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy in Newark, the crowd had a clear message about how they viewed the eight years of the Obama presidency.


CROWD: Four more years! Four more years!


CROWD: Four more years! Four more years!

OBAMA: Come on! I will refer you both to the Constitution as well as to Michelle Obama to explain why that will not happen.


HAYES: Less than an hour ago, while praising Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northham in Richmond, the president gave his thoughts on the current state of American leadership.


OBAMA: You notice I haven`t been commenting a lot on politics lately, but here`s one thing I know. If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you`re not going to be able to govern them. You won`t be able to unite them later if that`s how you start.


HAYES: Yesterday I learned about one more American who helped sell Russian propaganda on social media, me.

In April I retweeted an account called TenGOP, which described itself as the unofficial Twitter of Tennessee Republicans. I doubt I visited the account`s profile page at the time, which probably my bad. I might have wondered why they chose such a dreary-looking photo for their header image. Is that Tennessee?

But it had a seal of the state as its profile picture and over 100,000 followers. I vaguely recall this Twitter handle as one of the wackier state GOP accounts. Not unlike, for example, the Virginia Republican party, a real account, which once wrote and then deleted "Ralph Northham has turned his back on his own family`s heritage in demanding monument removal."

It was not at all surprising, perhaps more than a little bit perfect, to see the supposed Twitter account of the Tennessee Republicans tweeting something like this on Earth Day.

A photo of overflowing garbage cans with "Nothing says more about environmental activist that march for science than piles of trash they left behind." I retweeted and added, "This is the best hash tag Earth Day tweet so far."

Now in the genre of state Republican parties trolling tree hugging liberals, this was about as well executed a tweet as you can expect, which is impressive considering it wasn`t actually Tennessee Republicans, it was Russian trolls. They were building up a huge following to be retweeted by people like me, but also former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr.

The amazing full story is after this short break.


HAYES: The TenGOP Twitter account bills itself as the unofficial Twitter account for the Republican party. The account, which accumulated over 100,000 followers was a fake. According to Buzzfeed, the real Tennessee party flagged Twitter about the fake account three times starting in September 2016. But it wasn`t until August of this year until Twitter finally suspended the account.

By then, however, the account had sent out more then 10,000 tweets, messages slamming the media, Democrats, immigrants and even some Republicans.

This week, we learned just where the account actually came from. It was created by a Russian troll farm in St. Petersberg. It was hardly alone as the New York Times reported earlier this year, there`s evidence Twitter may have been used even more extensively than Facebook in the Russian influence campaign last year.

Julia Ioffe, a staffer at The Atlantic, has closely tracked Russian political interference in the U.S. Ben Collins, Senior News Editor at the Daily Beast which has broken a number of stories about the Russian social media campaign.

So what do we know about where this came from?

BEN COLLINS, THE DAILY BEAST: It came from the Internet Research Agency, which is that troll farm in that very dark, scary looking building in St. Petersberg. Yeah, a bunch of low level people probably, within that place, left a bunch of fingerprints to make it clear that they were in Russian at the end of the day. But you said you got duped by it. I`m sure I did. I have no idea. I`m sure it happened.

HAYES: It was a pretty well executed troll. This part of the story I find to be the weirdest part of the story. Whoever was calculated the effort reward ratio on this, like, well, yes, we`ll have someone make troll accounts on Twitter.

But that`s what they did. They did this, they had people showing up at rallies, not a lot, but like, events. What was the thinking here? I can`t quite get it.

JULIA IOFFE, THE ATLANTIC: This was actually, The Daily Beast, you guys did a great job on this. I think the media is finally pulling back the focus a little bit off of Trump and trying to blow the top off of the White House, and look at the Russian operation and see how they did it. There aided in part by -- there was a great investigative report that came out in a Russian business daily, RBC, that dove tails perfectly with this Daily Beast story, and it also dove tails perfectly what the Obama officials have been telling us, what intelligence community officials have been telling us. These guys are flooding the zone, and you use quantity to get to quality. You try 1,000 things, and if three get through, good enough.

The thing about Twitter, what is fascinating, from The Daily Beast story, the RBC story, the T.V. interview with the whistle blowing troll, what`s fascinating is, so think about this, the troll factory is staffed by college students at the number two university in Russia. They are students in the number two city in Russia, so they`re urban, college students. They are students in journalism, in linguistics, in foreign policy.

These are the elite, well educated, global Russians, the students that we in the west fantasize as this anti Putin contingent that could overthrow him. And here they`re doing taking VPNs, it`s a mask your geo location, and it`s the same VPN that they`re using to watch House of Cards and other shows that Russians are obsessed with. All my Russian friends have watched all the House of Cards episodes before you and I have even opened Netflix.

This is how they are aquanting themselves with American culture and then weaponizing it. The VPNs, the Netflix shows, the Twitter, the Facebook that they`re using, their window into western American culture, they`re now weaponizing against us.

This to me makes the most sense of anything we have seen so far.

HAYES: So it also seems like this is still going on, so one example of this is after Roy Moore became the nominee, like he had 1,000 fake Twitter accounts that originated from Russia started following him.

It seems like this is an ongoing operation this kind of like get in there to U.S. social media.

IOFFE: If it ain`t broke don`t fix it. It works.

And here`s the other thing, this stuff that we`re uncovering here, as it pertains to what happens, what the Russians did to the U.S. electoral process, or the election campaign, these are just can domestic Russian efforts that have been honed for years, at home and Russia, just being exported and projected onto a world stage.

Russian trolls on Twitter, on Facebook, on Live Journal have been doing this for years to the Russian opposition at home. We`re just finally getting a taste of it.

COLLINS: Yeah and like, Julia, it doesn`t cost a lot of money, this is why it`s working, this is in the low millions of dollars to destabilize the west.

HAYES: That`s my question, on one level, there just seems like such a big difference between a Tennessee GOP account and, oh, we hacked every email of the campaign manager.

IOFFE: But Chris, this was a campaign that was basically happening on Twitter. You had Donald Trump tweeting crazy things and every time he tweeted, all of the entire media, the main stream media, for lack of a better term, would just be like,let all talk about what he tweeted.

Everything was happening on Twitter, and the other thing that you said about the cost, this is super low cost in our terms and for Russians, but that`s because Russians are cheaper. These kids, these college students, what they were making at the troll factory is 2 1/2 times than the average Russian salary. So they were making bank and it`s still super cheap for the Russians.

HAYES: And you get to own the libs, which is also super fun.

Julia Ioffe and Ben Collins, thanks for being here.

That`s All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow starts right now.


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