Women of the Congressional Black Caucus demand apologies Transcript 10/23/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Barbara Lee, Jennifer Rubin

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 23, 2017 Guest: Barbara Lee, Jennifer Rubin

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That last group included Lee Harvey Oswald. Again, the question is whether he acted alone or with help from Havana or Moscow. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for beings with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

MYESHIA JOHNSON, WIDOW OF LA DAVID JOHNSON: The President said that he knew what he signed up for.

HAYES: La David Johnson`s widow speaks out as the President disputes her account.

JOHNSON: He couldn`t remember my husband`s name.

HAYES: Tonight new reporting on Pentagon documents that contradict Trump`s claims on Gold Star Families as the calls for a John Kelly apology grow.

REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: He owes an apology to the American people.

HAYES: Then --

BILL O`REILLY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Caution.

HAYES: Gabe Sherman on the latest sexual harassment scandal at Fox News.

MEGYN KELLY, NBC NEWS HOST: The silencing of them after the fact, it has to stop.

HAYES: And today`s Bill O`Reilly explosion.

O`REILLY: We have physical proof that is bull (BLEEP).

HAYES: Plus, as the GOP`s civil war continues --

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur.

HAYES: President Trump`s war on government inside the EPA.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, WHITE HOUSE: If you look at these cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. This probably could have been predicted sadly a week ago, the moment Donald Trump took a press conference question about an ambush of U.S. troops in Niger and turned it into a debate about the treatment of Gold Star Families, but here we are. And today, the President of the United States is in a feud with the pregnant widow of a fallen American soldier. Two days after burying her husband, 25-year-old Army Sergeant La David Johnson, this morning Myeshia Johnson responded publicly for the first time to reports that she felt disrespected by a phone call from the President last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: What he said was --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president?

JOHNSON: Yes, the President. he said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways. And I was -- it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn`t remember my husband name. And that were hurting me the most. Because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risks his life for our country, why can`t you remember his name? And that would make me upset and cry even more. Because my husband was an awesome soldier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Within an hour of that interview, the President of the United States took to Twitter to contradict Myeshia Johnson`s account of their conversation. "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson and spoke his name from beginning without hesitation." The President is making it a question of credibility, pitting his word against that of a grieving pregnant war widow. This comes after the White House and its allies spent days attacking the family friend of the Johnsons, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson who was with the family when they took the President`s call on speaker phone and first told the reporter about the family`s dismay at what he said and how he said it.

Chief of Staff John Kelly from the White House podium called Wilson a selfish and an empty barrel, smearing her with an entirely unrelated story about an event they both attended in 2015. Video of the event revealed Kelly`s account to be completely false. Over the weekend the President tweeted, "wacky Congresswoman Wilson is a gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party. A disaster for Dems. You watch her in action and vote R." Today Myeshia Johnson defended the Congresswoman for speaking out last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: She`s well connected with us because she has been in our family since we were -- since we were little kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President said that the Congresswoman was lying about the phone call.

JOHNSON: Whatever Miss Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 percent correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Almost three weeks since the attack that killed her husband and three other U.S. soldiers, Johnson said she knows next to nothing about the circumstances of his death, including why he was missing for two days before his body was recovered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: I want to know why it took them 48 hours to find my husband. Why couldn`t I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldn`t let me. I don`t know how he got killed, where he got killed, or anything. I don`t know that part. They never told me and that`s what I`ve been trying to find out since day one, since October 4th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Johnson is not alone in her frustration. Lawmakers, including senior Republicans, are increasingly questioning what U.S. troops were doing in West Africa, why we still know so little about the attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We don`t know exactly where we`re at in the world militarily, and what we`re doing and I didn`t know there was a thousand troops in Niger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get different stories of what actually happened. We had some stories that said that our soldiers actually engaged in a battle that actually pursued them. We had others that said no, they actually attacked us.

MCCAIN: Americans should know what`s going on in Niger --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MCCAIN: -- should know what caused the deaths of four brave young Americans. One of the fights I`m having right now with the administration is that Armed Services Committee is not getting enough information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Today the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford briefed reporters on the operation in Niger but he acknowledged the key questions remain unanswered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL JOSEPH DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEF OF STAFF: The questions included did the mission of U.S. forces change during the operation? Did our forces have adequate intelligence, equipment, and training? Was there a pre-mission assessment of the threat in the area accurate? Did U.S. force -- how did U.S. forces become separated during the engagement, specifically Sergeant Johnson? And why did it take time to find and recover Sergeant Johnson?

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HAYES: Tonight three U.S. officials briefed in the matter tell NBC News an emerging theory is that the soldiers were ambushed in Niger and set up by ISIS-linked militants who were tipped off in advance about a meeting in a village sympathetic to the local ISIS affiliates. Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a Democrat from California, one of the women of the Congressional Black Caucus who wrote a letter demanding an apology from Chief of Staff John Kelly for his comments last week. And let me start with that. Why do you think an apology is needed here?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA), CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Well, Chris, first, my heart goes out to Mrs. Johnson and to her family at the loss of her brave husband and all of the brave men who lost their lives. This is really a moment to grieve and to mourn their loss, but also I just have to say, it is just so sad that the Chief of Staff, General Kelly, would say that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson told a lie. Excuse me. He told a lie. And it was really unconscionable to hear him, to see him and what he called her.

And I have to say Congresswoman Wilson is a respected member of Congress. She has a life of fulfillment in terms of making sure that young people have access to opportunities. Her integrity is impeccable. And so why would he lie on her? This is just disgusting. And he should apologize. And I think that the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the African American Women, we`re demanding an apology because this is about respect and it`s about apologizing for something that just was not true.

HAYES: The President today disputing on Twitter Ms. Johnson`s characterization of his tone. Her interpretation and the feeling she had, which almost seems sort of not disputable. She felt the way she felt in that moment. Were you surprised, dismayed, what was your reaction to the President?

LEE: First, I believe Mrs. Johnson, I believe Congressman Wilson. This President needs to stop it. But this is who he is. He has a pattern of disrespecting women, especially women of color and African American women. And we`re saying to this President and to General Kelly that they need to apologize, and they need to stop these attacks on women and especially African American women and Congresswoman Wilson. She is a respected member of Congress and they cannot impugn her character or her integrity.

HAYES: Do you feel that there has been -- obviously General Dunford today giving a briefing, somewhat incomplete in terms of the facts, although obviously it`s a confusing scenario and they`re trying to ascertain what exactly happened. Do you feel there`s been sufficient transparency, forthrightness from the administration on what actually did happen?

LEE: No, there has not. And we need a thorough investigation. But also, Chris, one of the issues I`ve been dealing with for the last 16 years is repealing the 2001 authorization to use force, and debating these new wars that we`re in and forcing Congress to vote, yes or no. Many members of Congress did not even know that we had a thousand soldiers in Niger. We don`t know where this administration has sent our brave young men and women. And so it`s about time that Congress stop being missing in action and do its job. It`s our job to authorize the use of force. And, again, we`ve been missing in action. I tried to, you know, repeal this with bipartisan support this year. Unfortunately, Speaker Ryan once again undemocratically stopped the bipartisan effort to repeal the 2001 authorization.

HAYES: That authorization for use of military force was passed just several weeks after 9/11. It was -- it was interesting to me that Senator Lindsey Graham said this weekend he didn`t know we had a thousand troops in Niger. And I think a large amount of members in Congress are probably in that same boat. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, thanks for being here tonight.

LEE: Thank you.

HAYES: Michael Steele, former Chairman of the RNC and MSNBC Political Analyst, Jennifer Rubin is a Conservative Columnist for the Washington Post. Jennifer, I went back and forth in my head about using the word feud. It`s a word that gets used with the President a lot but it tends to be unilateral. A feud implies that there are two sides that are feuding or prone to feuding. But when you list all the people that the President has gone after, you know, he went after Steelworkers Union boss, Meryl Streep, the House Freedom Caucus, you know, Kim Jong-un, the musical Hamilton. There`s been a wide variety of people the President has again after. There`s one thing in common in that category. It`s the President. It`s not any of the other people on the other side of the feud.

JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. Listen, Donald Trump here is just doing what he does which is being a bully. As you say, a feud not only implies that it`s going both ways, but that there`s some kind of moral equivalence, that either both sides are being equally disingenuous, or both sides are being equally honest. And that`s never the case with Donald Trump. He doesn`t have his facts, he doesn`t have any sensibility about what other people`s emotions are. To attack a pregnant war woman -- war widow, how low can you get, really?

HAYES: It seems to me, Michael, that this is actually a profound issue about the constitution of the President and his fitness for the office which is that he just seems constitutionally incapable of letting something drop, even when grace or even just tactical self-interest would argue in that direction. He just genuinely seems like a constitutional personal problem that he cannot stop himself.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I`d agree with that. It is very much an internalization of all things that he disagrees with. Everything becomes a personal attack. The most benign, you know, subject or issue when directed at him with any degree or level of criticism is internalized personally. Whether or not constitutionally, meaning the makeup of the man, is -- you know, plays out for the voters will be determined in the 2020 election when the President`s name is back on the ballot.

What could potentially play out in 2018 is that the ballot box around the country in those states where, you know, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents do a midterm assessment and want to send a message to the President that he`s got to change his game. That they`re not excited nor pleased by the behavior of the President in the presidency, not just the lack of policy prescriptions that have been out there you know, all over the place. So I think there is a lot that`s going to be in play coming into next year that speaks to the very point that you raise. How the voters look at this President could be reflected in how they respond to Republican candidates next fall.

HAYES: But I think part of it too is -- there`s a part of this that`s political but there is a part that`s just kind of dread that I think I feel a lot of people feel as we watch something like this unfold. Because at some point there`s some desire for some moment of grace, some showing of grace. Just at the human level, I`m not talking about politics, what you think and it`s just like we`re crawling around the desert, Jennifer, knowing that`s not going to come. It`s just not in his sort of emotional vocabulary to do that. And so then we find ourselves, it just feels like it will always go to a yet more debased darker place.

RUBIN: That`s exactly right. There`s never an apology, there is never a moment even of quietude. If he would just shut up after the widow had her say on television, that would have been something. But you`re right. He has so little character, so little decency, so little to offer the country as a person that we feel that loss. For better or worse, the President not only has a political role but a moral role and a leadership role, head of state and head of government. And with this President, we never get any sense of the magnificence of the office, of the country and it is always, as you say one bad thing following another.

HAYES: And Michael, you know the place where the river hits the road on this for me that I think about a lot is how the President will conduct military affairs, particularly in situations of escalation because to the extent that he seems to need to get the last word, to the extent that he has a deep and keening sense of his own need for superiority, that can really produce catastrophic consequences in certain dynamics with other states like, say, North Korea.

STEELE: No, it can, which is why you have I think an inordinate reliance on the generals in this administration, from Kelly to Mattis to others who are really standing on that wall. They are the difference between this thing tipping into insanity and staying at some level of civil normal course of action. And the President resents that, quite honestly. I`ve heard from various sources inside and outside the White House that he`s very resentful of that -- this idea that these generals are there to sort of prevent him or watch him from going off the deep end. But the stories are there, they`re there for a reason. And the problem is that individuals like Donald Trump don`t step back in that moment and go, so why are these generals having to, why are the story there? What is behind this narrative? And realize it`s your actions, your words, your tweeting that`s causing this to rise the way it is.

HAYES: I also just kept thinking about -- I mean, I kept thinking about the intensity of Ms. Johnson`s words about the name, that he couldn`t seem to remember the name. And that you know, maybe she`s recalling that in a way through the refracted through the presidential brief.

STEELE: Sure.

HAYES: But let`s say that`s the case. I mean, that`s, like, the most basic thing in the universe. It`s also something Mark Knoller longtime White House Correspondent said has been a problem for this president which also sort of made me scratch my head as well as I think about the full waterfront of what we encounter. Michael Steele and Jennifer Rubin, thanks to you both.

STEELE: All right.

HAYES: Just ahead, more on the President`s feud with a pregnant military widow and the stunning White House e-mail exchange showing what happens when the President lies and his staff tries to cover for him. Former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest joins me after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: This weekend roll call reported on e-mails that showed how the White House really work, lurching from crisis to crisis with staffers scrambling to cover for the President`s mistruths. After inciting a controversy over Gold Star Families, President Trump last week said he contacted nearly all of the families of fallen service members.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don`t know what Obama`s policy was. I write letters, and I also call. Now sometimes, you know, if you had a tragic event with, it`s very difficult to be able to do that. But I have called, I believe everybody, but certainly, I`ll use the word virtually everybody where during the last nine months, something has happened to a soldier. I`ve called virtually everybody.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES: But the new previously unreported e-mail exchange shows that "senior White House aides were aware on the day the President made the statement, it was not accurate, that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, giving the gathering controversy." Not only had the President not contacted virtually all the families and military personnel killed this year, the White House didn`t even have an up to date list of those who had been killed and were scrambling to get that information from the Pentagon. The Atlantic then reported the White House was rush shipping condolences to military families. One man whose son was killed in August heard nothing from the president until a ups package dated October 18th arrived. The White House later said bureaucratic reasons had held up some letters.

The President says something inaccurate, off the cuff. His staff know it`s not true, in private they scramble the catch-up, in public they buy into the lie and slander anyone who says otherwise. Thursday it was Chief of Staff John Kelly`s turn, but instead of containing the damage, he deepened the fight with the grieving Gold Star Family and lied about a member of Congress. As a former White House Press Secretary, MSNBC Analyst Josh Earnest knows exactly what it`s like to face a room full of reporters from behind that podium. Josh, you know, if you look back at Sean Spicer, he sort of -- the credibility of that podium was gone the first day, literally the first day when he lied to people about what they had seen with their own eyes the day before the inauguration. Kelly, though, was repository of some kind of reputation capital and credibility that I feel as a journalist almost is just gone after that performance.

JOSH EARNEST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Chris, he certainly did give up a lot of his integrity when he launched his personal attack at the -- at the Florida Congresswoman. You know, aside from sort of the basic fact that he criticized her for listening in on the call when General Kelly did exactly the same thing, he was listening in on the call himself. So it was a pretty good example, Chris. I think where there can be a situation particularly in that briefing room, where emotions are fraught, where the stakes are high, where you might be seized with the zeal and the determination to defend your boss. And that is clearly what General Kelly entered that room to do, was to go and defend his boss.

HAYES: All reporting indicates he wanted to go out there. He was not sent out there. That was of his own volition.

EARNEST: Yes, and the reason for that, Chris, maybe that when he was retelling the story about what President Trump said in the phone call, General Kelly indicated that President Trump actually said exactly what General Kelly recommended that he say.

HAYES: Right.

EARNEST: And you`ll recall in that time President Trump was being criticized for what he said in that call. So it may be a situation that General Kelly didn`t just feel as if he need to defend President Trump, he also needed to defend the advice that he had given President Trump to try to justify the advice that he had given the President of the United States. But look, Chris, you know, we have -- when I was in the -- when I was the White House for President Obama, there were a number of occasions where there were American families who had lost their loved ones.

A couple of different times where there had been American hostages taken who had been killed by their hostage takers, and at least one incident in an American counterterrorism strike. And those families were publicly critical of the U.S. government, of the Obama administration, and in some cases of the United States military. But -- and we worked hard in each of those situations to try to help people understand publicly exactly the decisions that the Obama administration had made and why we had made them, and why in some cases they hadn`t worked out and in some cases had actually been a mistake. But what he -- we had also tried to do behind the scenes, Chris, was actually try to answer the questions of those families, to try to soothe their grief, and to be honest with them and give them answers about what had happened.

There`s still does not seem to be a commitment by this White House, to be honest about what had happened. And I`m not just talking in this case about the ongoing military investigation in Niger, I think that the Johnson family is also in a situation where they deserve an explanation about what the White House has been doing over the last week. They deserve an explanation about why we`ve heard these differing accounts between the staff and the President himself about what the President said in those calls. That`s what those families who have -- who have made such a significant sacrifice for this country. They deserve that honesty and that truth at a minimum.

HAYES: There is also just the issue of what -- the fact that you cannot default trust anything. And there`s a certain degree to which journalists shouldn`t just trust things. They should default the skeptical of anything that comes from that podium, anything that comes from the government. That`s sort of the proper perspective. But then there`s sort of small little trivial logistical facts about the world that is part of the relationship between a White House and the press or politicians and the press that you come to just say well, we sent the letter today. You think, oh, they probably sent it. But all of that is up for debate now. You cannot rely it seems to me as a journalist on any of that. What does that mean for trying to communicate to the American people?

EARNEST: Well, Chris, I`ll tell you, that when you`re standing behind that podium and you face that skepticism head-on in front of the cameras for all the world to see, that can be a pretty frustrating experience. But that goes with the territory. When you are given as much responsibility and as much influence and power as people who work in the White House have, what comes along with that is accountability. And we rely on members of the White House Press Corps to assert that accountability, to demand transparency and to demand accountability. That`s an important part of the job that comes with the territory and that`s a part of what being the Press Secretary is all about. And that`s why I think so many people were taken aback when Sarah Sanders noted that it was unwise to engage in a debate with a Four Star General. That is actually the point of the White House briefing, is to make sure that the boss of all of the Four Star Generals in this country are -- is held accountable and is subjected to questioning.

HAYES: Yes. We have a -- we have a Democratic-Republican in this country and we have civilian rule. We have a 203rd year of unbroken streak of that which is nothing to cease at, so yes, I agree with you. That`s sort of the point. Josh Earnest, thanks for joining me.

EARNEST: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, Bill O`reilly`s profanity-laden rant in response to reports he paid a $32 million sexual harassment settlement. That`s right after this quick break.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

O`REILLY: We have physical proof that this is bull (BLEEP), bull (BLEEP), OK? This is horrible. It`s horrible what I went through.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: We approve that Weinstein`s behavior towards women was not a secret in Hollywood, yet people did not come forward and stop it all from happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people are saying how shocked they are. Please, they all knew.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those Trump hating sorrows loving socialist condescending Hollywood glitterati for their silence, acceptance, and cover-up of one of their own?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That`s a good bit. Fox News has been savaging Hollywood and everyone associated with Harvey Weinstein for their complicity with his alleged actions, which I want to say, just honestly, by all means, go to it. But it might be a little awkward given what has taken place inside their own glass house and the latest shocking report from the New York Times that in January, Bill O`Reilly, you remember him, used to have a show on Fox News, settled a previously undisclosed harassment claim for $32 million, and that the very next month after that settlement, Fox News extended his contract for four more years at $25 million a year.

Quoting the Times, "it was at least the sixth agreement made by either Mr. O`Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him." 21st Century Fox said in a statement that while it was aware of the statement when it renewed O`Reilly`s contract the terms were confidential and that "his new contract added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment. 21st Century Fox has taking concerted action to transform Fox News." The company added that it did let O`Reilly go after further allegations came to light. And Bill O`Reilly has defended himself, contesting the figures in the New York Times article in an interview on the New York Times podcast The Daily.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

O`REILLY: We have physical proof that this is bull (BLEEP), bull (BLEEP). OK? So it`s on you if you want to destroy my children further. All right, because it`s all crap. This is horrible. It`s horrible what I went through, horrible what my family went through. This is crap and you know it. It`s politically and financially motivated, and we can prove it with shocking information.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES: O`Reilly released a statement saying that the person involved in that settlement had repudiated allegations against him, and he painted Fox News harassment claims as well par for the course. "Here are the facts. After the Chairman of Fox News Roger Ailes was fired in July 2015, dozens of women accused scores -- that`s 20s -- of male employees of Fox News of harassment." O`Reilly also said that he had never had one complaint filed against him by a coworker to human resources. But Megyn Kelly lodged a complaint and today she described it and that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Today, former Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly, who now hosts Megyn Kelly Today on NBC said that when she was working at Fox News she lodged a complaint about another prime time host, Bill O`Reilly.

In an email to the netwok`s co-pesidents at the time Bill Shine and Jack Abernathy, Kelly wrote, quote, "perhaps he didn`t realize his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment. On grounds that it will disgrace the company is, in part, how Fox News got into the decades long Roger Ailes mess to begin with."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, HOST, MEGYN KELLY TODAY: Bill Shine called me in response to my email promising to deal with O`Reilly. By 8:00 p.m. that night, O`Reilly had apparently been dealt with, and by that I mean he was permitted, with management`s advance notice and blessing, to go on the air and attack the company`s harassment victims yet again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: MSNBC contributor Gabe Sherman is a special correspondent at Vanity Affair who exposed that decades` long Ailes mess at Fox News and he joins me now.

So, the big news here from the Times is the allegations of repeated harassment, non-consensual sexual relationship, a term I`m having a hard time getting my head around, sending of gay pornography to Lis Wiehl, who is a former Fox News legal analyst.

$32 million -- I don`t know an -- everyone`s reaction to this was what the heck kind of settlement is $32 million?

GABE SHERMAN, VANITY FAIR: It`s a shocking figure on its face. I mean just for comparison, we look at the number Gretchen Carlson got $20 million to settle her claim with Roger Ailes. And as part of that settlement, there were audiotapes of that harassment. So it begs the question of what kind of physical evidence did this claim have to merit a settlement that was 30 or 40 percent greater than what Gretchen Carlson had?

HAYES: I thought it was incredibly revealing that in response, that O`Reilly`s lawyers issue a statement saying you got to understand the context here, man. There are -- scores, scores of men have been accused of sexual harassment over Fox News. And I couldn`t tell if they were trying to say oh, everyone is accusing everyone of everything, or they`re just saying, hey, this is just the kind of workplace it was.

SHERMAN: Well, I think it`s a little bit of both.

I mean, at its root, Bill O`Reilly`s defense is that he is a victim. I mean, he is basically saying that I`m a powerful guy. People are going to come after me.

I think the evidence speaks for itself. I mean, he, over the years, has spent, according to The New York Times, more than $45 million of his own money and the company`s money to settle claims with women.

I mean, Bill O`Reilly, this just a point of comparison. People who have worked with him tell me he is one of the cheapest guys they know. When he would travel on the road and his producers would go out to dinner, he would make them split the bill. So, I mean, that is...

HAYES: Wait, is that really true?

SHERMAN: Yeah, that`s just a little window into the way he thinks about spending his money. So the idea that he would just willingly fork over millions of dollars because there was not a valid claim doesn`t ring true to the people who know him.

HAYES: There is also this awful, awful sort of part of this which is that Eric Bolling was accused by I think it was 12 sources having post of sexually harassing women in the workplace. He left. He departed from Fox. His son later died. It`s unclear as to whether he took his own life or not.

What O`Reilly was trying to do in that Times interview was basically try to say there was it seems to me if you listen to the tape, if you publish this, you will hurt my kids. You might have that hanging over you. Bolling today responded that he I believe it is beyond inappropriate for anyone to bring in the tragic death of my son Eric Chase Bolling. And I agree with him there.

SHERMAN: Yeah, I mean, again, this this is O`Reilly`s playbook. Play the victim. Basically use whatever means necessary to try to shift the blame on to the reporters who -- we should point Emily Steel and Mike Schmidt have done a great job on this story.

I think at the root of it, you know, one of his claims that falls the most flat is the idea that no one reported these claims to HR at Fox News. I mean, as I`ve report over the years, Roger Ailes ran HR like his internal state security.

HAYES: Yeah, keep in mind the guy who is running the network.

SHERMAN: ...is a sexual predator. And he has basically set up a system in place through HR department and the legal department and the media relations department to silence victims.

So O`Reilly is basically shaming victims who were too scared to come forward and saying well it`s their fault they no one -- that they didn`t file through the proper channels.

HAYES: Do we have a full accounting yet of everything that happened there.

SHERMAN: At Fox News?

HAYES: Yeah.

SHERMAN: No. I mean, I think, again, this is the story Roger Ailes presided over a toxic culture, which is now coming into the light. You know, someone who has again who has covered this, it`s shocking to me that we are seeing this -- you know, someone like Megyn Kelly coming forward on the record. You know, when I did my book, getting sources to speak freely was something that -- people were terrified of. It`s now like post Catholic church scandal. You know, all of these stories are coming out. And we`re just going to continue to see a drumbeat of really what happened over the 20 years that Roger Ailes ran Fox News.

HAYES: I`m sure we`ll get some in-depth reporting from Tucker and Sean on this topic.

Gabe Sherman, thank you.

Coming up, John McCain once again appears to go after the president. Why he is not at all worried about threats from Trump.

But first, more alternative facts in Thing One, Thing Two, just after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing One tonight, Sean Spicer began his first day on the job as White House press secretary blatantly lying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.

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HAYES: Sean Spicer`s willful bending of reality became a hallmark of his tenure in the White House. The Osbama crowd was obviously bigger, as anyone can see with their own two eyes.

Donald Trump did not win the most electoral votes by any Republican since Reagan, as Spicer claimed. Paul Manafort played more, quote, than, a limited role in the Trump campaign as Spicer claimed.

I can go on and on and on, but you get the idea.

So, now that Spicer has a new job at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, he`s gone from being paid by the public to tell lies to getting paid by one of the world`s most prestigious universities to, well, tell more lies. And there is another crowd shot photo to prove it. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

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HAYES: Last month Harvard University brought Sean Spicer aboard as a fellow at its Kennedy School of Politics, where part of his job is to engage students and inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service.

Some of those students spoke with Huffington Post about what they`re learning at their august educational institution from Spicer. Like it`s claimed that an alternative fact is 3 plus 1 equals 4 or 4 plus zero equals 4, those are alternative facts, he told them. While a lie is 3 plus 2 equals 4.

OK.

Here is another lie. According to Huff Post, Spicer is also telling students that reporters had a chance to go and knock on my door and see me any time, but they would only ask questions during the White House press briefing so they could be on camera.

We know that`s a lie because over the weekend Yahoo News`s White House reporter, Hunter Walker, posted this photo from March of at least one dozen reporters standing outside Sean Spicer`s office.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever lied to the American people?

SPICER: I don`t think so.

UNIDETIFIED FEMALE: You don`t think so?

SPICER: No. I don`t cheat on my taxes.

UNIDETIFIED FEMALE: Unequivocally you can say no?

SPICER: Look, again, you want to find something. I have not knowingly done anything to do that, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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HAYES: In addition to being in a feud with a war widow, President Trump is currently embroiled in a feud with a war hero, Senator John McCain, who seemed to take direct aim at the president in a newly released interview with CSPAN about the Vietnam War.

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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong.

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HAYES: President Trump, a child of privilege, was granted five deferments to avoid the Vietnam War, including one for bone spurs. Now, McCain, who said today his comments on bone spurs were not directed at the president, was of course tortured during his five and a half years of prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Trump said in 2015 that McCain was not a war hero because he had been captured.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you consider him a draft dodger?

MCCAIN: I don`t consider him so much a draft dodger as I feel that the system was so wrong that certain Americans could evade their responsibilities to serve the country.

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HAYES: In a speech last Monday, McCain appeared to be referencing Trump when he lamented the rise of, quote, "half baked spurious nationalism," prompting a threat from the president.

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CHRIS PLANTE, RADIO SHOW HOST: You heard what he said yesterday, Senator McCain.

TRUMP: Yeah, well, I hear it. And people have to be careful because at some point I fight back.

You know, I`m being very nice. I`m being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back, and it won`t be pretty.

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HAYES: McCain could not contain his amusement when asked about the threat today.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he would fight back.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, COMEDIAN: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it wouldn`t be pretty. Are you scared?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he look scared?

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HAYES: The president has not yet responded to McCain`s bone spurs comment, but on Friday his self-described wing man, Steve Bannon, attacked McCain at a speech to the California Republican Party.

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STEVE BANNO, BREITBART: John McCain deserves our respect; however, as a politician, John McCain is just another senator from Arizona. The speech was nothing but happy talk. And we live in a dangerous world. It`s time we started treating our fellow countrymen like adults.

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HAYES: Bannon has said he is engaged in a season of war against the Republican establishment in Washington, but reality is that in Donald Trump`s Washington, the Bannonites are already running the government.

Senator Cory Booker is here with me next to talk about how he is trying to fight back. Don`t go away.

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HAYES: At some point soon, it might be time to rename the Environmental Protection Agency to something that more closely resembles its current mission because the people currently running the EPA seem to have something else in mind for the agency.

A new expose in the New York Times tells the story of how a top Trump administration appointee insisted upon rewriting a rule to make it harder to track the health consequences of a cancer causing chemical, and therefore regulate it.

Now, why on earth would the agency charged with protecting the environment want to do something like that? We don`t know. Because the EPA declined to comment.

But a spokeswoman named Liz Bowman, did respond to The Times with this, and I`m quoting her directly, "no matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece. The only inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country."

If that seems sort of an overheated statement coming from an actual government spokesperson, it helps to know that Liz Bowman has only been at the EPA for six months, or so. Before that, she was spokeswoman for, a group that lobbies for chemical manufacturers, that would be the American Chemistry Council.

She`s not the only one, deputy assistant administration, Nancy Beck, also came from the America Chemistry Council. She`s the one The New York Times says demanded the loosened regulations around the toxic chemical I mentioned a moment ago.

Trump`s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency`s office of chemical safety is named Michael Dourson, a long-time industry funded researcher who spent decades working on behalf of corporations trying to stave off tougher chemical regulations.

And then, of course, the man in charge, the guy at the top, Scott Pruitt, climate change skeptic, who has repeatedly sued the EPA and whose LinkedIn page to this day, right now, bills him as a leading advocate against the EPA`s activist agenda.

He runs the EPA.

The Environmental Protection Agency is being run at the highest level by people the agency used to protect the environment from.

I`m joined now by Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. He`s a member of the seate committee on environment and public works. He`s introducing a bill tomorrow that aims to protect low income and community of color from environmental problems.

This EPA -- I mean, all EPAs or Labor Departments -- there are certain departments that really sort of pendulum back and forth based on Democratic, Republican administrations. How do you classify the performance of this EPA under this administration Scott Pruitt?

SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY: Well, I think it really goes back to what Donald Trump said he was going to do, which was to drain the swamp, to make sure that those large corporation lobbyists, this revolving door, were going to stay out of government here in Washington. But what he`s done is categorically the exact opposite of that.

If you look at the people that he is nominating, they have deep connections to the very industries that they are supposed to be regulating. And that is a relationship that`s not just problematic, it actually is a life and death issue for millions and millions of Americans who are going to be exposed to chemicals, toxins, that these folks should be trying to protect us from.

And so this is a cynical, sad and dangerous reality that we`re seeing, that Donald Trump works to fill these positions.

You mentioned Michael Dourson. I sat in his confirmation hearing as stunned senator after stunned senator -- we even heard skepticism from one Republican senator from West Virginia who understood the damage this man was involved in causing or advocating for by working for many of these chemical companies.

So, this just really a despicable reality we have, that the agency that protects people in rural areas and urban areas across our country is being filled up with folks that don`t represent the people but have histories and careers of representing the very corporations that are outsourcing their toxins onto our nations.

HAYES: There`s also -- this is in some ways, this is a sort of trivial issue compared to sort of the substance of things like stopping the clean power plant rule by President Obama, or chemical legislation, but as a journalist and citizen, the tone of the EPA towards reporters questions really I find troubling.

These are public servants, you see part of the constitutionally protected back and forth, and you have Liz Bowman again, this is her when the EPA went around and looked at Superfund sites in Houston, "Once again, in an attempt to mislead Americans, the Associated Press is cherry-picking facts, as EPA is monitoring Superfund sites around Houston ad we have a team of experts... Anything to the contrary is yellow journalism." Then go on to attack that reporter, saying that it was incredibly misleading story from the comfort of Washington.

It seems to me there`s some requirement that the agency of the federal government have some respect for the constitutional work of the fourth estate.

BOOKER: More than that. First of all, this is a pattern from the president on down to attack the press, attack the press, attack the press. But the EPA, I`ve traveled around our country through rural areas, most recently in Alabama, Louisiana, places with nicknames like cancer alley. I stood in communities that are poor communities, disproportionately communities with color where folks will fill churches with anger and vile, but also not understanding why the federal government isn`t on their side when they can show the data, where there are people standing up talking about the losses in these communities to cancer. This is a real issue for communities like mine where I live in Newark where you have soil that`s toxic, the river that`s a Superfund site, air that`s toxic with asthma rates, led poisoning that`s still real.

And to know that we have an EPA that is not focused o holding bad actors accountable for literally poisoning their neighborhoods and communities -- everybody wants to talk about Flint, Michigan, but there are 3,000 communities that have twice the blood led level in their childrens blood than Flint.

There is work to do to solve these issues of environmental justice, and the agency that we should trust or believe in is being filled with people whose agenda is not to protect people from environmental injustice, but to do the bidding of corporations. This is really a tragic reality, and it`s not just the ping ponging back and forth in the administrations. This is really a sad reality in our country that`s going to be dangerous and life threatening.

HAYES: Let me ask you this, to what extent is this distinct? There`s questions about how distinct this administration is from other Republican administrations. Your colleagues on the oversight committee on which you sit, Republicans, do they have an issue with the EPA or is Scott Pruitt and the agenda there seen as sort of what the Republican agenda looks like?

BOOKER: Well, look, Scott Pruitt in Senates long ago would not be the EPA head because he would not have gotten 60 votes agendas, but since that was upended he was able to get into this position. There are a lot of folks who are concerned -- at least I don`t believe he would have gotten 60 votes. I don`t want to say that definitively. But there are a lot of folks that are concerned that we`ve created an environment we can`t stop bad people from being appointed.

So this is a very different time than it was in Senates ago. You have people that can be very extreme from a lot of departments and agencies that can get confirmation.

HAYES: Alright. Senator Cory Booker, thank you very much.

I want to put up Liz Bowman`s picture one more time. She works for you. Taxpayers pay her salary. She`s a representative of the United States government, which is voted in by the citizens and the people, she`s not working for a campaign. Just keep that in mind when you read quotes by Liz Bowman at the EPA.

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

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

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