Report: first charges filed in Mueller probe Transcript 10/27/28 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Matt Apuzzo, Michael Isikoff, Carrie Cordero, Karen Finney, Josh Barro, Harry Enten, Catherine Rampell, Nick Akerman

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 27, 2017 Guest: Matt Apuzzo, Michael Isikoff, Carrie Cordero, Karen Finney, Josh Barro, Harry Enten, Catherine Rampell, Nick Akerman

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

DONALD TRUMP JR., EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: The pretext of the meeting was hey, I have information about your opponent.

HAYES: Return to Trump tower.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer not a government lawyer.

HAYES: Tonight new reporting that the Kremlin played a role in the Don Junior meeting with Russians.

TRUMP: It's called opposition research.

HAYES: Then --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did the President involve himself in the uranium one investigation?

HAYES: The White House caught spinning its own scandal as Fox News "execution."

SEBASTIAN GORKA, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is equivalent to what the Rosenbergs did and those people got the chair.

HAYES: Plus, is the Bannon-Trump white grievance playbook backfiring in Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm for keeping them up.

HAYES: And as the #METOO movement explodes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's time to clean the house.

HAYES: The White House ends the week calling Trump accusers liars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the official White House position that all of these women are lying?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Yes, we've been clear on that from the beginning.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. New reporting tonight makes the single most incriminating event in the entire Trump-Russian saga look even more incriminating. The most concrete evidence we have thus far of an effort by the Trump campaign to collude with Russian agents in the run-up to the election is, of course, the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between a Russian lawyer and some of then-Candidate Trump's most senior aids. We now know despite claims to the contrary, that that meeting was directly connected to the Russian government.

Let's remember exactly what happened there and how we found out it back in July I remember. The New York Times first broke the blockbuster story that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the campaign. Don Junior initially claimed in a statement that the meeting was primarily about an adoption program. As we kept learning more, like the fact that Jared Kushner, the President's son in law was also in the room along with Paul Manafort, then the Campaign Manager, and several others on the Russian side. Don Junior story kept changing until the e-mail chain leading up to the meeting was eventually published. And there was no mention of adoptions in that e-mail chain.

Instead, what there was, was an offer from the Trump's one-time Russian business partners Aras and Emin Agalarov conveyed through an intermediary to Don Junior just days after his father clenched the Republican nomination. "Good morning, Emin -- that's their Russian buddies -- just called and asked me to contact you about something very interesting. The crown prosecutors of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be useful to your father." This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump helped along by Aras and Emin. The response from Don Junior being told that Russian government was supporting his father's candidacy and wanted to provide oppo, "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."

Now, to intelligence experts, the whole thing looked like what's known in the trade as a dangle from the Russian government. As a former CIA officer wrote on the Washington Post, it bears all the hallmarks of a freshly planned, carefully orchestrated intelligence soft pitch designed to gauge receptivity while leaving room for plausibility deny ability in case the approach is rejected. But according to the participants, the idea that the meeting had anything to do with the Kremlin was ludicrous. In an interview with NBC News in July, the lawyer in question, Veselnitskaya denied she was working on the government's behalf while both the President and his son downplayed any purported any Kremlin role.

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TRUMP: My son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer but a Russian lawyer.

TRUMP JR.: I think what happened -- he sort of boost up, he built up, there were some puffery to the e-mail perhaps to get the meeting to make it happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: But now it turns out Veselnitskaya, the lawyer in question was coordinating with the Kremlin at the highest levels of power. New York Times reported today building on previous reporting by Business Insider that the talking points that she brought to Trump Tower had been shared previously with top Kremlin official. Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika was the equivalent of basically the U.S. Attorney General -- they're Eric Holder, they're Jeff Sessions -- and many had assumed that that was the guy who is misidentified in that e-mail as the crown prosecutor in the e-mail to Don Junior.

Now, two months before Veselnitskaya took a memo -- took the meeting, right, alleging financial fraud committed by Democratic donors, Chaika, that same prominent law Russian law enforcement official gave a version of the very same memo to a Republican Congressman. And in the past week, according to the Times, the claims in that memo have been promoted across the Russian government including by Vladimir Putin himself. Evidence one Russia expert told the paper that Veselnitskaya actions were coordinated from the very top.

Matt Apuzzo is an Investigative Reporter who broke the first story about the Trump Tower meeting for New York Times, Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo! News. Matt, I will start with you. This is a key linked in the chain that there's always this question about sort of arm's length plausible deniability. It was just a freelance Russian lawyer who really wanted to do this and the representation in that e-mail that was from the Russian government was puffery. This appears to have come from the Russian government.

MATT APUZZO, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Sure. And what we know from the reporting that my colleagues have done today is we know that these talking points, these talking points that were intended to damage important American Democratic donors, were part of a concerted Russian government effort. And it wasn't just a freelancing operation. You know, what we knew from the very first moment this story broke was that the Russian government, representatives from Russia had offered help to damage Hillary Clinton. And the Trump world, Trump campaign said, sure, bring it on, I love it. And now what we know, we have put together that this wasn't just freelancing. This was somebody with real ties to the government that was part of a concerted government effort to damage these Democrats. And so whether the Trump campaign ultimately benefited from this or not, this was definitely part of a concerted effort.

HAYES: Michael, part of -- part of what's interesting to me here is that this is -- it shows in some ways a real focus by the Russian government on things that the U.S. government is doing, particularly the Magnitsky Act which is the set of sanctions they really don't like because they basically hit Vladimir Putin's buddies and oligarchs. And their obsession really -- obsession with getting this thing removed. We know they worked harder against it when it was passed on Capitol Hill. We now they're very focused on it. Putin talks about it all the time. If you are looking for motive here of why they're so engaged in all of this, this seems to be an indicator.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Exactly. And I think in your introduction you cited the former CIA official who used the term dangle and I think that's precisely what this turns out to be. The dangle was the offer of damaging information about Hillary Clinton. But that's not what the meeting was about. If you read the memo, it has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. They were focused on the Magnitsky Act, on attacking Bill Browder who had been the Russian investor -- British based investor who had lobbied for the Magnitsky Act.

And they used the Hillary Clinton line to get the meeting to push their agenda, which really was about stripping the sanctions in the Magnitsky Act. So in that sense, it was a dangle. So I think -- look the line between Russian lawyer and Russian government is often very blurry. There's clearly a coinsurance of interest if not a cooption there. So in that sense, it undermines what President Trump and his defenders have said about this meeting. But when you look at the content of what the meeting was really about, it really shows that it was very little to do with what it was advertised as.

HAYES: Yes, so I want to be clear here. I mean, I don't think any one theory or any plausible theory was that that meeting happened, they said, oh, hey, we hacked these e-mails, when should we release them? Oh it will be -- I mean, clearly the content of the meeting, of it seems the content of the meeting, in some ways the theory of the case of that being a dangle, Matt, is that the fact of taking the meeting is a sign of willingness to play ball on the part of the counterparty, right? The fact that there's an approach made saying, would you like some dirt on Hillary Clinton, the government is trying to get your dad elected, and they say sure, let's take a meeting, that that fact alone signals something to the Russians. That's the theory, anyway.

APUZZO: Sure. Well, that -- look, that signal something to the United States. I mean, when we saw those e-mails, this is part of the Russian government's efforts to support Donald Trump, and we have damaging information about your opponent. I mean, we know there has been a lot of talk about collusion or not collusion or whatever but there was -- there was an effort to help influence the election and the Trump campaign said I love it.

And to Michael's point, which is a good one, you know, we know from notes that were taken, contemporaneous notes that Paul Manafort took that were provided to the -- to the Hill, our understanding of those notes is there's no information about Hillary Clinton or damaging information. I mean, it largely is about the Magnitsky Act. And I think that's why the Trump campaign was like what is this? Why are we even doing this? And you know, understanding as Jared Kushner had left early, Paul Manafort didn't think it was all that big of a deal. But again to your point, there was clearly an interest.

HAYES: Yes. And let me -- let me just be clear here about my perspective on this to your -- to your point, Matt, about the characterizations of the meeting from people inside the room. I have no reason to believe those accounts were definitive or to not take them with a grain of salt. So that's -- you know, that's what those folk says happened in that meeting. And maybe they are telling the truth. But it also remains the case, Michael, that the really important question to answer here is what happened after the meeting? Because after the meeting, after they're told the Russian government is trying to help their dad win, they find out that there's these leaks, and it's reported from the press the Russian government is behind it. And so the question is did that ever make it up to Donald Trump and what did they do about it, which are totally if I'm not mistaken, you've been reporting this closely, unanswered question at this point.

ISIKOFF: Right. Look, I mean, they went to damage mode and misled everybody in there initially -- accounts of what took place. And it was only the emails, as is often the case, that exposed the spin that they were doing. But, you know, look, I think in some sense the contents of the memo, which we now have --

HAYES: Right. We have -- we have the memo.

ISIKOFF: -- does support those accounts of the meeting because it shows what the Russians were really interested in talking about.

HAYES: Right.

ISIKOFF: So, you know, in that sense, that part of the story --

HAYES: Yes, that corroborate that I agree with.

ISIKOFF: -- was corroborated.

HAYES: Yes, that part of -- the idea of they got in the room and that was topic I think was corroborated. The question of like, was that all they talked about and what they did afterwards remains to be a pretty open question given their willingness to play ball there.

ISIKOFF: We need more emails.

HAYES: Yes, we do, actually. Matt Apuzzo and Michael Isikoff, great to have you both.

APUZZO: Thanks.

ISIKOFF: Thanks.

HAYES: Carrie Cordero is a former Attorney in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, Paul Butler former Federal Prosecutor specializing in public corruption and an MSNBC Legal Analyst. Carry, I mean, what's become clear here, right, is the vector of interest from the Russian government is very strong like they're doing a lot here. And there's going to be a question in a certain point what the campaign knew, what should they have known. And I wonder if there's a legal distinction between those two.

CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER ATTORNEY, NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Well, again, I look at this from a the perspective of a former counterintelligence lawyer. And so from that perspective sort of the investigative that counterintelligence angle to it is whether or not individuals associated with the Trump campaign knew or had reason to know that there was some sort of Russian interest in affecting the election and helping their candidate and knowing that that intent to influence is a problem for the United States from a counterintelligence perspective. We don't want a foreign power, a foreign government trying to influence an election or a campaign or take part in it someway by providing information or any type of other assistance in order to affect the outcome.

And so that's really sort of the counterintelligence angle to this and that's why this June 2016 meeting has always been so important because it is sort of what has been identified as a particular instance of members of the campaign meeting with individuals who indicated an intent to provide information, whether they did it that meeting or not, you know, is being discovered. But whether they had an intent to provide information and in some way get involved in the election in coordination and in consultation with the major campaign that was going on.

HAYES: Paul, from an investigator standpoint, one of the things that strikes me all the time, we have seen some pressure on Capitol Hill for Republicans saying Mueller should wrap it up. They're going to cut off his funding. And it strikes me as interesting -- we keep - there is new information we learn every day. We're learning this from the outside. But where do you think we are I guess, from the fact-gathering process as someone who's gone through big investigations?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: We're still relatively early. You know, at first, it looked like the big deal with this meeting with Don Junior was ultimately going to be about obstruction of justice. And especially President Trump on Air Force One (INAUDIBLE) this false narrative about what the meeting was about. But sometimes it's really not all about the cover-up, sometimes it's about a substantive crime. Here collusion, because now we have evidence that President Trump's top campaign officials met with not just a Russian lawyer, but somebody who was working closely and basically parroting information that she got from the Russian attorney general.

So this is about step by step, it's just like what you see on law and order, it's going from investigators going from office to office collecting information. And here the information is thousands of e-mails, thousands of pages of documents, and hundreds of witnesses. And so I don't think despite what the Republicans hope, that this investigation is anywhere near its end.

HAYES: Yes. You know, there's another big piece of news today which is about the dossier Carrie, that I wanted to ask you about. This, of course, is the Steele Dossier, it is a bunch of sort of raw intelligence unverified, some of which is borne out, some of which we don't know at all. It is somewhat infamous. The president likes to talk about how it's fake news and invented. There was a lot made earlier in the week that the DNC and Clinton campaign at some point were essentially paying GPS, the firm that commission this intelligence, they were paying for it. Today we found out that it started as a project funded by the conservative Web site that's funded by Paul Singer who's a very wealthy GOP donor that it started in the hands -- we always knew it started in the hands of some Republicans, but we found out that information today. My question to you is does who's writing the check matter?

CORDERO: You know, I notice there are different opinions about that. I don't see it. I really don't Chris. I don't see the funding of that particular report, that dossier as having an affect in terms of determining the outcome, for example, of the various stages of the Special Counsel's investigation or as affecting substantively the investigations that are being conducted by the Congressional Intelligence Committees nor was it the basis, the information in that bases -- in that dossier the basis for the intelligence community's assessment that the Russians were trying to influence the election. So that's not what the intelligence community based its information on.

I don't think the information in that is going to end up being the information that the Special Counsel's conclusion or recommendations to or indictments are if he ends up with in indictments, it's not going to form the basis for those. And the Congressional investigators are doing their own interviews and their own investigation of records. And so they're going to come to their own independent conclusions. And so while I know that the Hollywood version of this entire event is going to end up very focused probably on the dossier, I don't think it's as relevant to the outcomes of these investigations.

HAYES: Yes. Do you -- yes -- do you -- Paul, do you agree with that in terms of the legal, wherever this goes legally in terms of Mueller's hands, the sort of status of that document, its legal relevance, what do you make of it?

BUTLER: Yes, I mean, so at least we have bipartisan agreement in Washington, both the Republicans and Democrats wanted dirt on Donald Trump Senior until it became clear he was the Republican nominee, and then the Republicans changed their mind. Bull you know earlier you mentioned this idea that the Republicans in Congress want to put a halt on this investigation. You know, in D.C. we play who's the most powerful man in town. Number one, still President Trump, number two Special Counsel Mueller, and number three Rod Rosenstein because he's the guy who controls the budget of the Special Counsel office.

HAYES: That's a good point. Carrie Corder and Paul Butler, thanks for being here.

BUTLER: Always a pleasure.

HAYES: Still ahead, the feedback loop between conservative media on the White House on full display today culminating what the former White House Adviser implying Hillary Clinton should be executed. That, in two minutes.

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HAYES: Fox News conservative media at large and handful Republican investigations and White House continue to throw a bunch of things named Russia against the wall to see what sticks. It was all on full display this morning. Within just one hour of Fox and Friends, there was a FBI informant story related to the much hyped Uranium One deal, the coming Russia bombshells which spoiler alert, had nothing to do with President Trump and everything to do with President Hillary Clinton, I mean, private citizen Hillary Clinton. And Wall Street Journal calls for Mueller's resignation. That last one arriving just ten minutes before President Trump tweeted, "Thank you, Fox and Friends, really great job and show." It's like the kind of e-mail I sent to my staff after we have a good show. Later this morning the President tweeted, "It is now commonly agreed after many months of costly looking, there was no collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC?" Then the White House press briefing.

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SANDERS: I think our position hasn't changed since day one. And I think we are seeing now that if there was any collusion with Russia, it was between the DNC and Clintons and certainly not our campaign.

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HAYES: The more that all of them attempt to use sheer brute force to push this, whatever it is, because it changes into the national conversation, the more unhinged it's getting. I mean, here's President Trump's former Deputy Assistant Sebastian Gorka last night appearing -- and I'm not exaggerating here -- appearing to call for the execution of Hillary Clinton because of her alleged role in their fantastical conspiracy theory.

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GORKA: If this had happened in 1950s there would be people up on treason charges right now. The Rosenbergs, OK, this is equivalent to what the Rosenbergs did, and those people got the chair.

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HAYES: Former DNC Communications Director or a National Spokesperson to Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign Karen Finney joins me now. As someone who lived through the campaign, watching them build this thing in real time, and it's remarkable, because it really is about three weeks ago, they just all sort of started like constructing the plane in midair. What is it like to watch this?

KAREN FINNEY, FORMER NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, 2016 HILLARY FOR AMERICA: You know what it's like, Chris, I have to tell you, it's very troubling, considering that folks in Puerto Rico still don't have power. And I'm not hearing a plan or much concern from President Trump about that. It's very disconcerting when we know that we lost four -- the lives of four of our you know, brave soldiers, and yet we don't know much about what was really going on in Niger and why one of those soldiers was lost it appears. So it's -- and I say that to say it's very troubling that they are putting so much energy and time into, again, trying to blur the lines, throw up lies, make it about Hillary when there is actual work to be done.

I would rather see the President tweeting about some concern for people in California, in the aftermath of the wildfires, the fires that are going on out there. I mean, I would rather see this President spending his time and energy towards actually doing the job of being President instead of clearly trying to obfuscate this story, which you know, as you point out, it's getting -- it's absurd, and yet at the same time, you know, it's disturbing. Because the more we learn about this Russia and the possibility of collusion and you know, potential connections, the more there is actually is there.

HAYES: Well, and it reminds me of a thing they would do -- it reminds of a thing he would do -- it's the most sort of simple and sometimes is as juvenile rhetorical move, like I know you are, but what am I.

FINNEY: Right.

HAYES: I mean, he famously said no puppet, I'm not -- you're the puppet. No puppet when she called him a puppet of Putin. You know, we didn't collude with Russia, you colluded with Russia, who by the way is such an enemy you should get the chair but also we should be friends with. I mean the --

FINNEY: Right. That's right. It's also -- I'll tell you, Chris, it's also incredibly disturbing because, you know, look at some point Donald Trump is going to have to stop blaming Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and you know, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus and actually take some responsibility and be the President. I mean, then again maybe he doesn't because he doesn't seem to be interested in actually doing the job. But it's very disturbing. You know -- but I think part of what the problem here is that each action by this President, it seems like you know, creates a new level of outrage or is meant to kind of create a new -- you know, it's a new outrage and it makes you angry and it makes you outraged and it makes you shocked.

And you know, again, I think we have to continue to remind ourselves this is not normal and you know, that his attempts to undermine the validity of the media are also about trying to obfuscate the truth. Because you know, it's very dangerous that he does that and in this instance, he goes out and tweets certain things about what's going on with Russia and the investigation that just factually are not true. They are actually mistruths or lies you may call them but we know that there are plenty of people who follow him who believe him.

HAYES: And it seems to me, I mean I'm curious what you make out of this, this is more than a Trump phenomenon because watching this sort of thing function, one is reminded of you know, Travel-gate, Whitewater, Benghazi, all kinds of -- I mean, there is nothing in some ways I feel like that the conservative media loves more to do that feels more natural that works better for them than like a Hillary Clinton scandal even when she's just a Westchester residents which is what she is right now.

FINNEY: Right. No, that's exactly right. I mean, it really shows, she was so -- A, she was so right when she famously talked about the vast right-wing conspiracy. It shows how insidious they are. But I think it also shows just how vapid they are and how little they actually care about real issues, about the people in this country, and really moving our country forward.

HAYES: And you I think -- you know what I think it shows? I think they would rather Hillary Clinton be president at the end of the day if they give them truth serum in their own weird way.

FINNEY: Well, they'd be making more money. They probably be making --

HAYES: They be making more money. They also be -- the would also be more comfortable. I think -- I think everyone -- I think everyone would be more comfortable. In some ways, it would be a win-win all around but that (INAUDIBLE) has passed. Karen Finney thank you very much.

FINNEY: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead, in the shadow of the deadly events Charlottesville this summer, two Tennessee towns are taking extreme measures to prepare for white supremacist rallies happening this weekend. We'll show you right after this.

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HAYES: Some businesses in two Tennessee towns are closing their doors and boarding their windows bracing for violence ahead of white supremacy rallies on Saturday. Police in Murfreesboro before dawn this morning checking up location of a so-called White Lives Matter Rally scheduled for less than 24 hours now. The worries of law enforcement, businesses, towns people in Murfreesboro and Shelbyville are extremely well founded because there has been a string of violence from white supremacist, racist, and nationalist across the country. Often it's gone under the radar, sometimes it's gotten a lot of tension.

There was, of course, the rally Nazis and racist in Charlottesville in August that turned violent. One man murdered a counter-protester Heather Heyer, a group of white supremacist viciously beat DeAndre Harris, another man fired a gun. This is the guy who's actually in the KKK right there. You see him right there, fired a gun at the ground toward a black man not far from police who did nothing at the time according to a video posted by the (INAUDIBLE). Shooter simply walked away. All three of those happened in Charlottesville. But it didn't stopped there. There have been a number of other incidents as well.

In Florida, three men charged with attempted homicide after a speech by a white supremacist Richard Spencer. Police identified the man as white nationalist, they said they give Nazi salutes and shouted chants about Hitler. And then story that's only recently come to light earlier this year, a former intern of Milo Yiannopoulos allegedly killed his own father for calling him a Nazi and a racist. Meanwhile, the establishment GOP candidate in Virginia's Gubernatorial Race is taking his campaign on defending the Confederacy. But new data suggest that strategy could be backfiring, coming up next.

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HAYES: Data suggests that strategy could be backfiring coming up next.

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HAYES: The Washington Post is blasting Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for Virginia governor for a campaign the paper's editorial board calls toxic. They write, "once known as pragmatist and a centrist, Mr. Gillespie increasingly has been turning in his political advertising to President Trump's brand of divisive scare mongering politics. It's a poisonous strategy for the nation and for Virginia."

That strategy might be impacting voters. A new poll from Christopher Newport University finds Democrat Ralph Northam leads Gillespie 50 to 43 among likely voters, although it's within the poll's margin of error.

And now Gillespie's campaign is drawing criticism with some prominent Republicans. Rand Paul's chief strategist Doug Stafford tweeting, "so in the last three ads by Ed Gillespie are gangs, people getting their voting rights back, and monuments. The dog whistle is a little loud, Ed."

Harry Enten, senior political writer and analyst for FightThirtyEight.

So, the polling -- first, let's start, the polling has been all over the place in this race in a way that is making a lot of Democrats who I think penciled in this as a win very nervous. What's your read on where the race is right now?

HARRY ENTEN, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Well, I think, you know, you have the best Gillespie poll is he's leading by 8, the worst is that he's losing by I think 14. There was that Quinnipiac poll that came out last week.

Overall, if you look at the average, Gillespie is trailing Northam. Northam is ahead by about 5 percentage points in the average of October polls. That, to me, is a pretty good gauge of where this race is. Northam is ahead, but there is enough error involved with polling that Gillespie could win.

HAYES: And part of the reason I think the stakes here are so high this is the first set of federal elections post Trump. The New Jersey state wide election is sort of very non-national story. It's about a sort of referendum on Chris Christie's tenure there, which is not going so well.

ENTEN: Not too well.

HAYES: Not for the Republican. But this feels like Ed Gillespie trying to use the kind of Trump model.

ENTEN: Sure.

HAYES: Of this kind of politics to see if that can power him over what should be a kind of disadvantage in a state that Trump didn't carry even last year.

ENTEN: Right, Trump lost that state by 5. Terry McAuliffe, the incumbent Democrat governor, is fairly popular. And we're seeing the polls basically line up with where the presidential vote was last year. And one of the things I keep an eye out on are these white college graduates up in northern part of Virginia and the D.C. suburbs, that's going to be key demographic going into the 2018 mid-terms, and it's going to be very interesting if Gillespie is able to capture those,despite having this message that perhaps might turn them off.

HAYES: Although we should be clear that Gillespie is playing this sort of double game where the mailers up in that part of the state are like I'm the son of an immigrant, moderate and pragmatist.

ENTEN: The direct mail is very different.

HAYES: And other is immigrant gangs are coming to kill you and Ed Northam wants sex offenders to run wild in the streets, essentially.

ENTEN: Right. I mean, you know, there are three -- almost three different campaigns that are going on right now. You know, in the southwest part of the state, you have Gillespie trying to drive up that Trump vote that used to historically be Democratic but it's been trending Republican. And the southeast part of the state and the tidewater region, you have Northam trying to drive up African-American turnout and kind of the swing vote is this white college graduate vote that I think is just going to be very telling.

HAYES: And it's going to be very telling, I think as a weather vane for Republicans, because if you can win those people with the Gillespie message you are going to see a lot of people go in on that message.

ENTEN: Absolutely. Why not? Because you want to make ensure taht you have a winning message going forward. And you know that, hey, if white college graduates are willing to go along with this, why not do it more in the future, because you're going to bring along those white non-college graduates as well.

HAYES: Now, there's also the thing about these kind of very polarizing, very racially loaded politics. I mean, you know, he -- Donald Trump talking about our heritage when he talks about Confederate status, which I'm willing to bet that most black residents in Virginia don't see it as, quote "our heritage."

ENTEN: Right.

HAYES: Is that, it's also solidifying nonwhite voters against Gillespie, there are some polling to indicate it's increasing enthusiasm in the anti- Gillespie forces as well.

ENTEN: I think one of the key questions of 2018 is if you look back at 2016, one of the missing parts of the Democratic coalition were black voters staying home. Will they come out and vote now because of the message that Gillespie is putting forward? If they do, I think Republicans might try to back off of that message going into 2018.

HAYES: Yeah, that's why it seems to me that this is -- and politicians learn that they are not particularly innovative. They tend to imitate things that work.

ENTEN: Sure. And, you know, for Trump it worked for Trump, right. It didn't work for him in Virginia.

HAYES: For Virginia, which is what makes it remarkable that Gillespie is running the campaign he is in Virginia.

ENTEN: It's remarkable. But so far it hasn't worked. But if it does work that's going to be a very scary thing for Democrats heading into 2018.

HAYES: And for the country.

Harry Enten, thanks for joining me.

ENTEN: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, the headspinning week of the Trump administration and the scandal that kicked it off. And tonight, a hashtag makes it into Tonight's One, Thing Two. It's a big moment. And it's next.

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HAYES: Thing One tongiht, the Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the USA," it's been around for over three decades, first released in 1984 when it was used in a video at President Reagan's convention.

(SINGING)

HAYES: It is, I have to say in my humble opinion, a truly excellent song. And after you listen to it, the refrain will be in your heads for weeks. Now, since it's release, the song has been a mainstay for Republican politicians, including, of course, Donald Trump who used Greenwood's hit as his entrance song throughout his campaign, at times illiciting especially patriotic feelings from the candidate.

At Trump's inauguration, shortly before a set by the piano guys, Greenwood performed "God Bless the USA" with the president-elect singing along, as you can see him there.

The White House has featured the song in several official videos tweeted by the president.

So today, on lee Greenwood's birthday, President Trump tweeted out to the 41 million supporters and Russian bots that follow him, "happy birthday to the great @leegreenwood83. You and your beautiful song have made such a difference," which is nice. And a few hours later, #Leegreenwood83 responded, "@ChrisLHayes, really hoping this morning tweets make Thing One or Thing Two."

Now why would @Leegreenwood 83 respond to the president's message like that? Well, that Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: President Trump tweeted this morning "Happy birthday to the great @leegreenwood83. You and your beautiful song have made such a difference."

And @leegreenwood83 replied, "@ChrisLHayes, really hoping this morning's tweets make Thing One or Thing Two, and that's because @LeeGreenwood83, who now has 10 times the followers he did before Trump's tweet, is a lawyer focused on Washington, D.C. sports.

While the Lee Greenwood is the legendary country musician whose song has apparently been voted the most recognizable patriotic song in America.

President Trump deleted his original tweet and posted a new one to the Lee Greenwood, but here at All In, we would like to say to @leegreenwood38, great suggestions, and happy birthday whenever it is.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSE MCGOWAN, ACTRESS: I came to be a voice for all of us who have been told we were nothing, for all of us who have been looked down on, for all of us who have been grabbed by the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED). No more. Name it. Shame it. Call it out. Join me. Join all of us as we amplify each other's voices and we do what is right for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That was actor Rose McGowan at the inaugural women's convention in Detroit this morning, making her first public comments since publicly accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her.

In a statement issued in response to similar allegations detailed against Weinstein in the New Yorker, his spokesperson said, quote, any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.

Now, McGowen's comments come at an incredible cultural moment as there has been this broad ripple effect, the number of powerful men being accused of sexual harrassement and facing consequences for it continues to climb, among them reporter Mark Halperin.

According to new late reporting from CNN as well as Daily Beast is now being accused of sexually harassing at least a dozen women while working for ABC News, as well as college students at Tulane University years after leaving ABC.

The previously undisclosed accounts signed anonymous, but some now on the record have not been verified by NBC news where Halperin is a political analyst.

Meanwhile, a statement from MSNBC, where Halperin appeared frequently says,quote, we find the story and the allegations very troubling. Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood. HBO said yesterday it had canceled a mini-series based on Halperin's book Game Change.

In a statement tonight, Halperin says in part the world is now publicly acknowledging what so many women have long known, men harm women in the workplace. For a long time at ABC News, I was part of the problem.

When we come back, the White House doubles down on a stunning statement about sexual harassment. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, sexual harassment has been in the news. At least 16 women accused the president of sexually harassing them throughout the course of the campaign. Last week, during a press conference in the Rose Garden, the president called these accusations fake news. Is the official White House position that all these women are lying?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah, we've been clear on that from the beginning. And the president has spoken on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That's how another head spinning week in Washington came to an end with the White House on the record calling sexual harassment accusers liars.

Josh Barro, MSNBC contributor, senior editor at the Business Insider; and Catherine Rampell, columnist at The Washington Post, join me to talk about more about that.

And not only how this week ended, but how it began, starting with, Catherine, with that. And what we've seen this week in terms of across every single industry, in sort of staggering way right, from Hollywood, to media, to our own company here at NBC and MSNBC...

CATHERINE RAMPELL, THE WASHINGTON POST: To the White House.

YAES: To the White House, this incredible sort of dam breaking, happening again during the era of Donald Trump, the president of the Access Hollywood tape.

RAMPELL: Well, I think a lot of women, who are themselves victims, now feel like it's OK to come forward because there's enough credulity out there that they will be believed, that there's sort of safety in numbers. And whereas if you come forward by yourself, there's a great risk that you'll be retaliated against either by the person that you are pointing the finger at or by your own company, that people won't believe you, that the Twitterverse will impugn your good name, that there were just too many risks.

And I guess, you know, I'm very sad to hear about all of these stories, and many of us in journalism have our own, but on the other hand, I'm grateful in a sense that the conditions have changed, that people feel like it's OK to come forward now.

HAYES: It's interesting you talk about the credibility, because, JOsh, we were -- I was remembering this morning the week starts with the president basically saying that the pregnant war widow Mayesha Johnson is not telling the truth, or misremembering her conversation with the president, it ends with Sarah Huckabee-Sanders saying from the podium that the 15 women, I believe, who have accused the president of some sort of sexual harassment are liars. There is no -- it's really hard to countenance much credibility from that podium.

JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: Yeah, well, I think this is what we've seen through two years since he started his campaign, that basically there is some number of people who basically believe whatever he says, whatever his staff says. But there are also a lot of people who don't trust him, tell pollsters all sorts of negative things about him and his character and his honesty, but then enough of those people then went and voted for him anyway, because they decided they didn't care that much relative to other things, and I think that's what sets the president apart from these other people who have been accused and had to basically lose their careers over these accusations, which is that the president is accountable only to the public, and enough members of the public decided that they didn't care that much about the allegations, whereas you know these people are accountable to boards, things like that, so you could have norms.

HAYES: Stockholders. There are all sorts of different institutional structures. Although, we should say, there was an institutional Republican Party that could have played the role back during the campaign when these allegations came forward...

RAMPELL: Oh, absolutely.

HAYES: In which they essentially fired him by withdrawing their nomination.

RAMPELL: Oh, and there were all of these members of congress who said, like, Chaffetz, you know, I can't look my daughter in the eyes or whatever his expression was, knowing what I know, and then like two weeks later said, OK, nevermind I'm going to stand by my man after all.

HAYES: All right, I want to go to a story that is breaking -- that CNN just broke. And we've been debating about going, because it is CNN's story and we cannot independently confirm it.

So I -- a lot of the reporting they do at that institution is fine, fine reporting. And this is what they're reporting. I cannot tell you that our reporters have the same information. But what they are reporting is that there were the first charges filed in the Mueller probe.

Now, to be clear here, we don't know who the charges are against. They're sealed, according to the reports that CNN has filed. We don't have a ton of information beyond that, frankly. Obviously, if this is true, and I'm only saying if this is true because this is an extremely big deal if true that our news organization that has not independently confirmed it is an enormous, enormous, enormous development in the trajectory of this story. I think we have Nick Ackerman on the phone right now. Do we?

NICK AKERMAN, WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: You certainly do. I'm here. Yes.

HAYES: All right, well, again, we don't know anything about who this would be against, but what is your reaction?

AKERMAN: My reaction is that you normally don't ask for an indictment to be sealed unless you believe that the person against whom the indictment has been made is about to flee the jurisdiction or the country. So it may turn out to be somebody that we don't even know about at this point, and presumably, unlike someone like Manafort who's been told he's a target, meaning he's a punitive defendant already and would be able to flee just based on that, I suppose, this may be somebody we have not heard about up to this point.

HAYES: That would be astounding if that were true.

Josh, the context of this I have to say is there was a really noticeable uptick in the nonsense being dispensed by the White House and its allies around Russia in the last week or two. And some speculated that it may have been in advance of some big plot development in the actual story.

BARRO: Yeah. Although, I mean, you know, at least in theory these sorts of grand jury proceedings are confidential. So I don't know if all of the people making that noise would have necessarily known if an indictment was pending.

I would just note here that this investigation has gotten fairly broad in a number of ways. So, if this is true that an indictment has come down, and if we find out who it is, it's possible that it won't be that closely related to Russia. They've been looking into a number of thing related to Paul Manafort's finances, they've been looking into stuff relating to Mike Flynn acting as an agent of entities closely related to the Turkish government without registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. So, I think it's possible -- I mean, any indictment in this investigation would be a big deal, but I don't think people should assume that it will be like be a big Russia collusion related indictment.

HAYES: That's a great point. And we should say that the Paul Manafort, there is also reporting from Politico that crossed about 40 minutes ago, that one of the realtors for Paul Manafort has been brought before that grand jury.

Paul Manafort, whose real estate transactions have more red flags than a May Day parade...

RAMPELL: Well, not just Manafort, but Trump's business attorney Michael Cohen also had these above-market sales of I think four different all-cash transactions in property in New York. Trump, himself, obviously has some suspicious real estate transactions, too. I mean, it does seem to be a common past time within the Trump circuit to have some strange transactions that go forward that should raise red flags.

HAYES: Nick, do you feel like we're -- the first thread is being tugged here as someone who was on the team during the Watergate prosecution?

AKERMAN: I think that the first indictment is going to be something that ties in, not just the plane sort of things that we know about Manafort and his dealings with Russia, but I would be surprised if this doesn't directly strike at the heart of this collusion issue.

If I were the prosecutor, I would make my first charges be based on that, because that's sort of the big issue that's out there. And politically, I think if I were -- he could have filed charges against Manafort at any point here.

I think if I were were Mueller, I'd be looking to bring charges that directly brought in this collusion issue.

HAYES: That is a great point. And also they basically had Michael Flynn on his face lying to federal investigators from day one.

So, Nick Ackerman, Josh Barro, and Catherine Rampell, thanks for joining us.

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

END

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