Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: November 1, 2017 Guest: Jerrold Nadler, Sabrina Siddiqui, Rick Wilson, Eric Swalwell, Frank Figliuzzi
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- own spirit of everything Donald Trump is not. That's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning the President launched into a political argument with Senator Chuck Schumer on Twitter.
HAYES: In the wake of an atrocity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why was he so quick to go the political route and point fingers at Chuck Schumer?
HAYES: President Trump attacks Democrats and the American justice system.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we have right now is a joke and it's a laughing stock.
HAYES: Tonight, how the Trump response changes depending on the attacker.
TRUMP: I don't want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement.
HAYES: Then, new reporting that a panicked President is blaming his son- in-law.
TRUMP: Come here, Jared.
HAYES: New questions about what Jeff Sessions knew about Russian collusion.
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: I'm not aware of anyone else did.
HAYES: What the President knew about Russian collusion?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the election?
TRUMP: No, nobody that I knew of.
HAYES: And what Robert Mueller will find in the President's taxes.
TRUMP: I have no deals in Russia.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. One month ago, tonight, a white American man with more than 20 guns shot almost 600 people at a concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 of them and then himself. It was the worst mass shooting in modern American history and the single deadliest attack on American soil since 9/11. At the time, the White House scolded anyone suggesting maybe something could be done about guns in this country, the weapons he used to carry that out, accusing them of politicizing a tragedy and getting ahead of the facts. It just wasn't the time for that. Needless to say, a month later the President still has yet to offer a single policy solution.
Today, though, just about 18 hours after a terrorist attack here in New York City in which an Uzbek national in a pickup truck mowed down cyclists and pedestrians in a bike path leaving eight dead, the President was blaming the U.S. Senator from New York. He also tweeted about ISIS and his so-called extreme vetting program. He blamed the attack on the American immigration system and then the entire justice system of the United States of America. It's part of a long-standing pattern of amplifying and weaponizing acts of violence committed by Muslims, while other kinds of violence, especially by white non-Muslims are held at arm's length. The President of the United States has access to the best information from law enforcement on their ongoing investigation, far beyond what's available to the public, but instead he's getting his updates from "Fox & Friends", parroting an unconfirmed report the attacker, a green card holder entered the country under a program allegedly pushed by Democrats.
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TONY SHAFFER, RETIRED U.S. ARMY RESERVE: We are here, Brian, precisely because of the neglect, political neglect of the last administration, Senator Chuck Schumer importing -- helping import Europe's problems. We don't want that.
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HAYES: That was this morning. Minutes later, the President tweeted, "Chuck Schumer helping to import Europe's problems, said Colonel Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness.@foxandfriends." While the President gets his information from Fox News, the rest of us are relying on reporters and New York officials who today confirmed the attacker, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov had been planning the attack for weeks. Saipov who came to the U.S. seven years ago was charged in federal court today with giving material support to ISIS.
Also today, authorities released the identities of all eight victims who died in that attack who ranged in age from 23 to 48 years old. Five were from Argentina, one from Belgium, the other two were locals from New York and New Jersey. The Argentinians were part of a group celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, seen here enjoying the bike path in the moments before they were mowed down. At a cabinet meeting today after offering a brief tribute to those victims, the President pivoted to pushing his long-standing immigration goals.
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TRUMP: We want a merit-based program where people come into our country based on merit. And we want to get rid of chain migration. We've wanted to do that for a long time and I've been wanting to do it for a long time. And we'll be asking Congress to start working on it immediately. There are bills already about ending chain migration.
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HAYES: The President of the United States, the head of the U.S. federal government, then proceeded to denounce the rule of law in this country, attacking the federal criminal justice system that he himself overseas.
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TRUMP: We need quick justice and we need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now because what we have right now is a joke and it's a laughing stock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you want the assailant from New York sent to Gitmo? Mr. President --
TRUMP: I would certainly consider that, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering that now, sir?
TRUMP: I would certainly consider that. Send him to Gitmo, I would certainly consider that, yes.
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HAYES: We should note here that the man responsible for that bombing in Chelsea in Lower Manhattan last year was just convicted in federal court two weeks ago using the normal constitutional use of criminal procedure. He was prosecuted by the same office that just charged Saipov for yesterday's attack. A year ago while the manhunt for that Chelsea bomber was still underway, then-candidate Trump seized the moment to tweet about Syrian refugees. He had a similar reaction to an explosion in London this past September calling out police in the midst of their investigation. "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sight of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive."
There was, of course, his unforgettable response to the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, which was until Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism. I don't want congrats. I want toughness and vigilance. We must be smart. Of course, it was just five days after the 2015 attack at San Bernardino that the man who is now President called to ban an entire religion, about a quarter of the world's population, from approaching our shores. Now compare those responses to the way the President handled an outbreak of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville when he waited hours before delivering a tepid condemnation of "all sides."
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TRUMP: I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. It's a very, very important process to me and it's a very important statement. So I don't want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement, I want to know the facts.
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HAYES: In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, in which the gunman had a whole stockpile of firearms, many of them modified to mimic automatic weapons, the White House chastised, chided anyone who dared bring up policy solutions.
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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: There's a time and place for a political debate but now is the time to unite as a country. This is a day of mourning, a time of bringing our country together and that's been the focus of the administration this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Orlando (INAUDIBLE) when at that day, he was talking about the travel ban saying he didn't want congratulations essentially. Why is the --
SANDERS: There's a difference between being a candidate and being the president.
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HAYES: Congressman Jerrold Nadler is a Democrat from New York. He represent the district where yesterday's attack took place. Congressman, first of all, my sense is that the people of New York and in your district are unbowed. Is that your sense as well?
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Oh, yes, they are unbowed. They -- the best proof of how unbowed they are is that the Halloween parade with almost a million people went on right after that in Greenwich Village, which is right nearby.
HAYES: What is your -- I mean, at this point I imagine you have expectations of the President that were probably met by his reaction, but to watch him go after Chuck -- Senator Chuck Schumer and rail against immigration law and call our system of justice a joke, what's your response to all that?
NADLER: Well, it's total hypocrisy obviously. As you pointed out after the Las Vegas gun attack, it's wrong to talk about gun policy. But here he can go off halfcocked and talk about immigration policy when this probably has nothing to do with immigration. And he just uses the culture wars and any excuse he gets to rally his base. One of the things, if you were talking intelligently, you would ask him why he recommended greatly cutting down the counterterrorism budget -- counterterrorism funds in his budget. Now, the fact is that the -- Saipov immigrated to this country seven years ago. He was vetted by all accounts, there was nothing particularly dangerous about him. Now he probably, in recent years, got radicalized by social media while he was here, as we've seen in other cases. And the immigration has nothing to do with that, but it's a good talking point for the President.
HAYES: Do you -- what do you want to say to the President if he were to call you after this? It took him a while to call the Mayor, it took him a while to call the Governor, I imagine -- has he -- has he reached out to you?
NADLER: No, he has not reached out to me and I don't -- I don't expect him to.
HAYES: What would you say to him if he called you to say, Congressman, I understand it's your district; I want to send my condolences for what happened there, what would you tell him?
NADLER: I'd say thank you for your condolences and the best thing you can do is stop talking about irrelevancies. I mean, immigration policy is a fit subject for debate but in terms of this. Instead, restore the counterterrorism funds so the New York City Police and the FBI can do their jobs more effectively. Don't cut down the counterterrorism funds while you're talking about terror. And I'd also say don't demagogue about the -- about the criminal justice system. The fact of the matter is he was, as you pointed out, the Chelsea bomber is already convicted. A regular court in New York, a federal court will meet out very harsh justice to someone who does this.
HAYES: I want to play for you -- it's because it's not just the President sort of considered Guantanamo, there are other Republicans who were -- who were some are considered anti-Trump like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who are also calling for this person to not go through normal constitutional and criminal procedures as he has been charged today.
NADLER: I don't -- I don't understand why some of our Republican colleagues do not trust the American justice system. It has been a very good and effective system. It has -- it has tried people fairly and rapidly and given them the sentences they deserve. By contrast, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was involved allegedly in the 9/11 attack is still awaiting trial by military commission in Guantanamo. If you want a 20-year delay, send someone to Guantanamo. If you want an effective and swift justice, federal courts and state courts in New York can handle that very well.
HAYES: I should note that the Guantanamo system is such a mess that today a judge ordered a marine general who's acting as a defense attorney in Guantanamo to serve a 21-day sentence because things are blowing up there so much. Congressman, I want to offer my condolences as well. Obviously - -
NADLER: Thank you.
HAYES: -- on behalf of everyone. Thank you very much for making time tonight.
NADLER: Thank you.
HAYES: Sabrina Siddiqui is a Political Reporter from the Guardian and Rick Wilson is a Republican Strategist and Media Consultant who writes columns for the Daily Beast. Rick, do you think -- I mean, you could watch the wheels turn, you know where he's getting his information, does it -- does it work? Does it draw blood?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, what it does is it keeps his base stoked and it keeps those folks in that sort of hermetic bubble that they're that they become accustomed to living in. And it's the sort of thing that he needed this week after a fairly catastrophic opening to the week. And he's obviously very willing to jump right into that pool and to stoke up the argument of -- you know, to try to force everybody who isn't a member of his particular squad into this debate about Muslim terrorism and everything else. So it's -- you know, you have to expect this from him. This is his -- this is his you know, simple sort of basal reflex when he sees an event like this.
HAYES: Sabrina, you can tell the folks who are in there in the White House -- or let me ask you this. As someone who is in the White House, is the difference between how he reacts to different events, different atrocities, apparent and palpable in that -- in that White House?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Oh, absolutely. And I think you have seen this time and again where anytime the suspect is someone who is a brown-skinned individual or has a Muslim name, the President is quick to react and to call for sweeping policies, whether it's his travel ban or you know, more coded language referring to extreme vetting. And if it's a white male born and raised in the U.S. who is the perpetrator of a mass shooting, it's too soon to politicize the event or to call for any sort of policy response. I think, look, what we know is that this is a President who is trying to meet a few key goals with respect to immigration.
And really it's to slash legal immigration as well as to try to and limit immigration from Muslim majority countries. And so he thinks that this somehow reaffirms that objective, when in fact none of what he has proposed would have prevented this incident from taking place because Uzbekistan was not on any of the travel ban iterations that he put forward. And as -- you know, the Congressman is pointing out, this is someone who came in through this lottery program seven years ago. And so he only recently may have been radicalized and that would not have come up when he was being considered for that program.
HAYES: We should also note that what's called the diversity lottery is a vestige of a 1990 law signed by George H. W. Bush which was proposed to be scrapped by the folks that tried to get the Gang of Eight Bill signed. So if immigration reform had been signed, which was spearheaded by Chuck Schumer himself, it would not exist anymore. The thing -- you said something, Rick, that struck with me is that we've seen the politics of terror work on behalf of Republicans before, definitely worked for George W. Bush and part of it is because it allowed people that weren't in the political collision, they felt scared and that fear could be kind of marshaled and used to expand the political coalition. What you said before though is what strikes me as the way he handles this isn't pitched to anyone who isn't already within the political coalition.
WILSON: Right, no, this is -- this is a guy who cannot -- who cannot operate outside of the cheer section that exists for him. You know, and it's the comment section of various, you know, kook right Web sites now that he looks to and it's the "Fox & Friends", you know, they're feeding him a steady drip every morning of adoration and approval. And so, you know, he can't -- he can't bring himself to understand anyone outside of the coalition that supports him and anyone outside in the vast majority of Americans you know, who look at -- who look at an event like yesterday and recoil at how horrifying it is and want to come to solutions and want to praise New Yorkers for being resilient.
And look, I worked for Rudy Giuliani in New York, and so I understand the sort of reflex action by people in the city of New York. They look at things like this and they shake it off and they push it in the background and they get on with their lives, it's what they do. And you know, Donald Trump taking this guy, as tragic and as horrible as this is, and you know, trying to get back and use this as a way to undo his multiple failings on this -- on this immigration ban, you know, it speaks very much to the fact that he doesn't have anything outside his base. There is no there, there beyond the folks that wake up in the morning and believe that Fox News -- or "Fox & Friends" is the word from the prophet on the mountain.
HAYES: Well, and it's not just that, Sabrina, it strikes me that what I found unnerving this morning is the President seemed to be getting his information from Fox News. It's not just that he is only speaking to those people, but it actually goes two ways. It really seems like he wants to know about what happened in Lower Manhattan yesterday, he's clicking on "Fox & Friends" and that's the source of the information of the President of the United States.
SIDDIQUI: Certainly it was "Fox & Friends" that was the source apparently of this information and even if you say that he's the President, he has access to classified material, he is then choosing, as we have seen before, to disseminate this on Twitter, without much thought for the ramifications or the fact that U.S. authorities haven't actually weighed in. But I think just one quick thing Rick hit upon the fact that this is really about triggering pressure points within his base.
And I think that even the fact that he would mention the prospect of sending this individual to Guantanamo, that's rooted in him knowing that that is really something that in the eyes of the base projects this aura of toughness, when if you're just looking at it from a substantive standpoint, some of the conspirators in 9/11 -- behind 9/11 who are in Guantanamo, they haven't even received a start date for their trial. And so you have federal courts that by contrast have convicted and sentenced well over a dozen terrorists at the same time. So that's a key point that is also worth mentioning.
HAYES: Sabrina Siddiqui and Rick Wilson, thank you.
SIDDIQUI: Thank you.
WILSON: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, as the Mueller investigation goes inside the west wing, Trump is attacking Jared Kushner? Plus, new questions about what Jeff Sessions really knew when he testified under oath. That's in two minutes.
HAYES: The White House Communications Director is a 21-year-old woman named Hope Hicks who has been with President Trump since the very beginning of this campaign and is now about to talk to the Special Counsel investigation. White House officials said -- told Politico that Robert Mueller's team is scheduled to interview Hicks by mid-November. And as early as this week, Politico reports the investigatory team is looking to interview three or four other current White House officials as well. This new phase of the investigation comes amid fresh questions about the role of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
He was, of course, present at a March 2016 meeting with Campaign Aide George Papadopoulos, who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Kremlin proxies. And that was the meeting when Papadopoulos said he proposed arranging a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to a former campaign aide who spoke to the New York Times, Mr. Sessions, as the campaign's top national security official, spoke vehemently against the idea asking others not to discuss it again, which may or may not be true, but it's hard to believe that he completely forgot about that whole thing when he repeatedly denied under oath any knowledge of any possible campaign communications with Russia.
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SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have -- not have communications with the Russians. And I'm unable to comment on it.
Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians? Is that what you're saying?
SESSIONS: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.
FRANKEN: And you don't believe it now?
SESSIONS: I don't believe it happened.
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HAYES: Congressman Eric Swalwell is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He joins me now. The Attorney General said I'm not aware of anybody who did but he was in a meeting which we now know from a filing in court signed by the person in question as part of a plea that he said in that meeting that Sessions was in, "I think I can arrange for a meeting with Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump." What do you make of that?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Chris, good evening and first, you know, our hearts are with you in New York and the victims there. What I make of that, Chris, is that this is a theme that we have seen from Donald Trump, his son, Jared Kushner, Attorney General Sessions, and just about everyone at the highest level is that they have failed to acknowledge meetings with Russians, only when confronted by you or you know, other folks in the press or Congressional investigators with contradicting evidence do they finally come around or say that I fail to recall. So I also -- I think what's also important from the Papadopoulos stipulation of facts is this theme now of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton's e-mails. I mean, that also now has come up in so many different contexts. And so I think that, you know, again, it looks like Attorney General Sessions was not forthcoming.
HAYES: This was the court document that I should just read so that people know. When defendant Papadopoulos introduced himself to the group, he stated in sum and substance "He had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin." And then there's the other part of the court document, "Mr. Trump listened with interest and asked questions on Mr. Papadopoulos. Mr. Trump didn't say yes and he didn't say no said the former aide who agreed to describe the meeting on condition of anonymity." That, of course, the New York Times on this. I guess the question is do you think it's plausible that all this back and forth simply escaped the notice of the Attorney General?
SWALWELL: I don't believe in coincidences anymore when it comes to the Trump team and Russia, so no. No, I don't think it's plausible at all.
HAYES: Do you think he was intentionally misleading the committee?
SWALWELL: I think he has failed a number of times to you know, be truthful about his contacts with Russia. And so, you know, I don't understand what explanation he would give here other than he didn't want to acknowledge that somebody had told he, the President and other senior advisers that they had a connection to Vladimir Putin. And so, again, Chris, this is just a reoccurring theme here. And you know, whether they actually worked with the Russians and you know, "colluded" or did their damndest to try and work with them, they wanted to work with them.
HAYES: Well, that's the -- let me stop you there because that's the question. I mean, in what ways what's interesting is that I think the press and politicians and the White House have arrived on this word collusion, colluding, which has no legal meaning, right?
SWALWELL: That's right.
HAYES: There's no part of the criminal U.S. code where you can be charged --
SWALWELL: Conspiracy is the word.
HAYES: Right. Yes, I mean, you can (INAUDIBLE) but that's a different thing. But the point being that you can -- what do you think of what we know now from the charging document, how do you characterize the actions of the campaign?
SWALWELL: I characterize it this way. A bunch of people were told that there is money in a vault. So they got the ski masks, they got the vault blueprints, they talked about how they were going to get the money out of that vault and what we're trying to figure out is did they actually work and go take the money out of the vault? We know that an attempt at the very least was made. They wanted to get that money out of the vault. And the law, you know, an attempt can be just as you know, incriminating as a complete act. But right now, we just want to complete our investigation so we can answer that question. But we know they were will and eager to work with the Russians.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
HAYES: Frank Figliuzzi is a former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI who served under then FBI Director Robert Mueller. What do you -- what do you make of the actions by the Special Counsel on Monday in terms of what you understand his strategy to be here?
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE, FBI: Well, there's clearly a pathway that he's got planned out, and we're seeing it unfold right now. And one of the things that I think we're all realizing is that the Mueller team is much farther along in this investigation and much closer to the Oval Office than many of us realized. And what we're learning even today is that people like what I call the formers, former White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, former White House Spokesman, Sean Spicer, former Interim National Security Advisor, Keith Kellogg, all voluntarily working with or being interviewed by the Mueller team. This is a sign that he's penetrated into the White House. These are the people who were savvy, in meetings, privy to knowledge, for example, Reince Priebus was White House Chief of Staff when Trump decided to fire FBI Director James Comey. What does he know about that? What does he know about Michael Flynn and who knew what when?
But let me tell you something, the appearance here of Hope Hicks into this mix and the likelihood that she's about to be interviewed when he returns from a foreign trip with the President should worry President Trump perhaps more than anyone else. Why? All of the people we just named are formers. They don't have this love fest with the President. They, in fact, have issues with the President. Hope Hicks has been with Trump and the Trump organization since2014. She's a 29-year-old young lady. She's about to undergo the most stressful part of her life, being interviewed by the Special Counsel team. She sits in the most sensitive meetings, the most critical media interviews the President has. She knows more than we think she knows.
HAYES: You worked with counterintelligence and from that perspective, I'm trying to make sense of these approaches, because they're so strange, right? So you've got the approach at Trump Tower, and the manager for the rock star who's the son of an oligarch says, oh, the Kremlin wants to help your dad get elected when he meet with a lawyer. Here we've got Papadopoulos saying I met this professor in London and he's talking to people in the Kremlin. As someone who worked in counterintelligence, what do those look like to you?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes, if you look at this from a counterintelligence lens, you see the fingerprints of the Russian government here. Look, Papadopoulos meets with a professor, who just happens to be able to hook you up with Russian government Ministry of Foreign Affairs official. Ministry of Foreign Affairs is often a cover position for Russian Intel. He then meets a woman who claims she's related to Vladimir Putin. We find out from the Mueller team she's not. Then we see Manafort and Gates representing Ukrainian pro-Russian Presidential candidate. The party is pro-Russia. They are told to put their money for consulting in a Cyprus Bank. Who uses the Cyprus Bank to launder money? The Russian intelligence service. Their fingerprints are all over this.
HAYES: And finally, I want to just ask you this detail also again from your sort of perspective. In a little more than ten years, Manafort, this is from some of the charging documents, has submitted ten United States passport applications on ten different occasions indicative of his travel schedule. He currently has three U.S. passports with different numbers. Have you heard of anything like that before?
FIGLIUZZI: That's a lot. Now, look, there are people who travel incredibly, fill up the passport book, need new passports, but this many is problematic. The guy travels a lot, but there's way -- there's way too many passports going on here. And again, I think he got a primer on how the Russians can influence a campaign when he represented the Ukrainian candidate, and he saw what Russia could do to manipulate a campaign and he liked it.
HAYES: That's really -- that's an interesting idea. Frank Figliuzzi, thank you for that. I appreciate it.
Tonight, new reporting that the President of the United States is beginning to blame his own son-in-law for the predicament he finds himself in. That story coming up.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did the president respond to this news about two people who did work for his campaign or was he disappointed that Paul Manafort received this news today that he was being charged on these 12 counts?
SANDERS: He responded the same way the rest of us in the White House have, and that's without a lot of reaction because it doesn't have anything to do with us.
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HAYES: The Trump administration on Monday was trying to project an air of calm as Robert Mueller's first three indictments came news. Tonight, the president called The New York Times personally to let them know just how chill he is.
"I'm actually not angry at anybody," Mr. Trump told The Times.
But that's not what white house staffers are telling just about anyone who will listen.
CNN has reported that Donald Trump is, quote, "seething over the charges."
The Washington Post wrote that Trump fumed over Russia indictments. Senior Republican and close contact with top White House staffer said that, quote, "the walls are closing in and everyone is freaking out."
In a Gabe Sherman piece today in Vanity Fair, former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg went on the record. Here's what Manafort's indictment tells me, he said, Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can't go any lower, he's F'ed.
Sherman also reported that the president may now be turning on the one person he's always counted on: his son-in-law Jared Kushner. We'll talk about that, next.
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TRUMP: If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can, OK? All my life, I've been hearing that's the toughest deal in the world to make. And I've seen it. But I have a feeling that Jared is going to do a great job.
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HAYES: That was January. Today, Gabe Sherman reports in Vanity Fair that while speaking to Steve Bannon in the wake of the Mueller indictments, Donald Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey that led to Robert Mueller's appointment, according to a source briefed on the call.
Gabe Sherman, special correspondent for Vanity Fair and msnbc contributor joins me now along with Asawin Suebsaeng, who is politics reporter at The Daily Beast, whose latest piece is called Steve Bannon tells Trump to bring in new lawyers as he looks for ways to kneecap Mueller.
Let me start with you, Gabe. The president calls The New York Times tonight to say actually I'm not angry, a statement that in the history of utterances is almost always self-refuting.
GABE SHERMAN, VANITY FAIR: Of course.
HAYES: What does your reporting suggest? Is that accurate that he's not angry?
SHERMAN: No. You know, it reminds me when Trump says believe me. Every time he says believe me, you know it's the opposite, don't believe him.
This clearly was a sign that the White House is spooked and is pushing back aggressively on my reporting and others in The Washington Post. And The Daily Beast has done some great work as well at sort of the panic and turmoil that people inside the West Wing are feeling in the wake of Mueller's indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and as well as the guilty plea of George Padopoulos.
HAYES: Suebsaeng, your reporting is that Bannon is like basically trying to urge him to bring in new lawyers and go harder at Mueller.
ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, THE DAILY BEAST: Correct.
HAYES: What strikes me as so reckless about that is they're also under investigation, the White House and the president, for obstruction of justice. And the fact that they're going around telling reporters or whoever is telling reporters like we're going to go after Mueller, that could itself be part of a case against the president of the United States for obstruction.
Still, Steve Bannon has no problem urging President Donald Trump to really go to the mattresses on this when it comes to Mueller and his investigative team.
As we reported at Thedailybeast.com, Bannon has been urging the president to bring in more, as he would say, ruthless lawyers to sort of layer above Ty Cobb and John Dowd, two leaders of Trump's outside legal team, who Bannon thinks are remarkably incompetent.
HAYES: Well, we should say that Cobb appears to me to be someone right now that is standing between the impulses of the president to attack Mueller and, you know, his actual behavior. I mean, he always is saying we're cooperating. We're confident that we'll be found innocent. Is that the case? I mean, is he kind of the fulcrum for the White House's response?
SUEBSAENG: Sort of. But it's also a matter of the fact that the president and the White House do not actually have a choice at this point to cooperate. Even Bannon himself has not been urging the president to order the sacking of Robert Mueller because they're aware of the political firestorm and the potential political suicide that would ensue if they did that.
Having said that, Bannon is one of the president's closest advisers, even though Steve Bannon himself does not work within Trump's west wing anymore, and he is essentially being a devil on Trump's shoulder on this.
HAYES: Yeah, that sounds like -- familiar. What do you think about this Kushner -- anytime I see anyone kneecapping Kushner, Ivanka or back in the day, people kneecapping Bannon, I was trying to read the tea leaves of which faction of the West Wing was going after who. What do we make of this idea that he's turned against Kushner?
SHERMAN: I think the most important thing to remember about Donald Trump is it's never his fault, right? He never will take any responsibility for any decision, right?
So in the wake of pushing out Steve Bannon, in the wake of pushing out Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and all of the other advisers who were part of that original West Wing team, the only one there who was part of that core group now is Jared Kushner. And so Donald Trump looks out, as my reporting indicates, and says, how did I get into this mess? And what he sees is that Jared Kushner was by his side at every critical moment that led to the appointment of the special prosecutor.
So Donald Trump has been telling people, as I understand in this phone call I reported on with Steve Bannon, that he said, listen, Jared Kushner is part of the reason I'm in this mess because he encouraged me, he was part of the decision to fire Jim Comey. He was part of the decision to fire Mike Flynn. These were the trigger points that led us to the Special Counsel.
HAYES: I want to read a quote for you from Gabe's reporting and tell me if that squares with things you hear from people in the White House. This is Nunberg who of course is a Trump adviser on the outside, "Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history. I'm only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News and conservative media, and in the Senate and the Congress". Do you hear that?
SUEBSAENG: Within the White House, Jared Kushner has a number of people both within and without the White House who are in Trump's inner political circle who greatly resent him. Having said that, the president is lashing out at his son-in-law and Senior Adviser, Jared Kushner, but he is also lashing out at a lot of people within his inner circle. This is not exclusive --
HAYES: That's true.
SUEBSAENG: To Mr. Kushner. And related to what you were saying earlier where the president laughably told The New York Times, that, oh, I actually think this is fun, I'm not actually mad, that is patently false. Anyone with any understanding of this president can tell you that.
And when the president gets madder and the more Russia is in the news cycle, he hate tweets more and yells at the TV a lot more. And nowadays, there's a lot of yelling at the TV and a lot of live tweeting of Fox News.
HAYES: As I said before, actually I'm not mad is not a statement that's ever been true. Gabe Sherman, and Asawain Suebsaeng, thanks.
Still to come, why the president may be personally inclined to grant Paul Manafort a pardon and what it has to do with Trump's still, still unreleased taxes ahead.
And tonight's Thing One, Thing Two, next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, part of the Donald Trump sales pitch is that nobody does branding like Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the magazines said I've done a great job with branding. Somebody said, boy, if you could do some branding for the United States, because we have a country where the brand has been so badly hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: America has seen quite a bit of Trump branding over the years, but usually it's taking a product and attaching the word "Trump" to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Trump Steaks are by far the best tasting, most flavorful beef you've ever had.
My new game is Trump, The Game.
The Donald J. Trump Signature Collection.
Welcome to the Trump Network.
Now I have my own Trump Home Mattress Collection.
At Trump University, we teach success.
Trump Steaks are the best you can give, and believe me, I understand steaks. It's my favorite food.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: His favorite food. Republicans in Congress apparently saw that and thought, that is just the kind of branding genius we need to name our new tax cut bill, and so, what Trump came up with is Thing Two in -- actually I can't even wait that long. He's insisting they call it The Cut Cut Cut Act. The story behind that is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: You can get in trouble when you let other people name things for you like last year when the British government asked the internet to help name a new research vessel, and now there's actually a research submarine named Boaty McBoat Face.
Well today, ABC News reported that House Speaker, Paul Ryan asked President Trump to help name the Republican tax plan, because of the president's knack for branding according to a senior Hill aide.
Now Trump has been insistent the bill be called the Cut Cut Cut Act. Again, that's the Cut Cut Cut Act. Spelled with Cs. And while Paul Ryan and Kevin Brady have pushed back on the name, Trump has held firm, which means they may actually get stuck with the equivalent of Taxy McTax Face. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the president want the bill to be called? There are reports that he wants it to be called the Cut Cut Cut Act, is that accurate?
SANDERS: If it's called the Cut Cut Bill, great. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: Monday's indictment of Paul Manafort outlines sprawling financial entanglements he's alleged to have with Kremlin aligned interests. Some of the Manafort feelings have already been reported in bits and pieces.
Records from Cyprus, for example, showed that Manafort had been in debt to pro Russian interests by as much as 17 million dollars before joining the Trump campaign in March. Less than a month after that, we know that he immediately tried to leverage his new position, writing in an email to Ukrainian contact, "How do we use to get whole, has OVD operation seen?", an apparent reference to Kremlin tied Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska.
This information, as well as the pieces we still do not know, raise very real questions about whether Paul Manafort's financial dealings left him open to influence or straight-up coercion by foreign interests. And here's the thing, those very same questions apply to the man whose campaign he was running, the current President of the United States, Donald Trump. Even Manafort himself couldn't give a coherent answer on this subject last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So to be clear, Mr. Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs.
PAUL MANAFORT, FMR TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIR: That's what he said, that's what I said, that's obviously what our position is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Okay. We know almost nothing about Donald Trump's finances, to whom he owes money, when those bills might come due, what interests might he be serving. There's one document that could lay those fears to rest, his 2016 tax returns which he presumably filed two weeks ago, but unlike past presidents he's not made it public.
At this crucial juncture, it seems to me Americans sure do have an absolute right to know, and the U.S. Congress could force him to produce that document right now. One senator who says lawmakers should do just that joins me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: We now a lot more about the financial entanglements Paul Manafort is believed to have with Russian interests. But what about the president? Does Donald Trump have similar financial ties? To whom is he beholden?
One document could answer those questions. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced legislation in January that would have forced Donald Trump to release his tax returns. And he joins me now.
Senator, why is it important, or is there renewed urgency given the Manafort indictments around seeing the president's tax returns?
SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) OREGON: First of all, it has always been the lowest ethical bar for a president. And it seems to me right now it would really help us connect a lot of dots.
I mean, going all the way back to 2008, the Trump family said much of their portfolio came from Russian money. The tax reform bill we're talking about may favor the kind of business approach called pass throughs the Trump family has always supported. It would connect a lot of dots.
And in a lot of ways like the Paul Manafort situation. When you get the details, for example I think the details about Paul Manafort are going to be so serious he's not going to be able to sweep them under all those very expensive rugs he bought.
HAYES: Well, let me ask you this, does congress have the power, can you make the president give you his tax returns?
WYDEN: There's a very complicated process, and really involves the chair, that's Orrin Hatch and myself, the ranking Democrat, agreeing to set in motion a process to obtain the tax return, then have the finance committee look it over. If get the committee to go along, yes there would be a policy for making them public.
I've been very interested in doing that. And I'll say respectfully, I haven't been able to get Republican support.
HAYES: Well, it seems to me that it's a concrete action they can take if they actually are concerned with where this is headed.
I want to ask you also about the possibility of a pardon and what congress could do in that case. The president's power to pardon federal crimes is well nigh absolute. But if he were to pardon Manafort, and there are many people who think that that is Manafort's angle here, what could the United States senate or congress do?
WYDEN: I feel, Chris, that this pardon issue is not unlike the whole matter of firing Bob Mueller. I mean, if you're even looking at firing Bob Mueller, if you're even thinking about the pardon process at this point, I think you're going to be triggering a constitutional crisis. I think it would be a big mistake. Many Republicans in the Senate have said that they would be for Bob Mueller. I've been telling them, you've got to speak out right now, because it's going to be important to protect Bob Mueller's right to do a professional job.
HAYES: So you think pardoning -- because we have heard talk about Mueller. We're heard Republicans get on the record saying he should not do that. And you think that firing Paul Manafort is on the same plane of that -- sorry pardoning Paul Manafort.
WYDEN: Yes, it seems to me, particularly at the outset, if you're doing either talking about firing Bob Mueller, talking about pardoning people, it just, based on my conversations with senators, I think would trigger a constitutional crisis.
HAYES: Now you had hearings over the last two days with some of the major platform companies -- Google and Facebook and Twitter, among others, about the ways in which Russian actors appeared to use their platforms, possibly in dubiously legal ways. What is your one big take-away from these two days of hearings about these platforms and the degree to which they're equipped to deal with what they faced?.
WYDEN: It seems to me these companies better move very quickly to restore trust. They have not done enough to police their platforms from bad actors. And the fact is I wrote a law that gives them enormous legal power to do a better job of policing those platforms.
And the reason this is important is the Supreme Court has said, yes, it is possible to have some restrictions on politics and political speech, but almost everything else is covered by the First Amendment -- rallies and marches and protests. And that means that these companies have to got to step up and they've got to police their platform from bad actors.
HAYES: are you concerned that there will more of this in the midterms?
WYDEN: My concern is they are going to have to play catch-up ball and they're going to have to do it in a hurry. The midterms are coming up. There are a whole host of questions. I've asked the people who make the voting machines to tell us what they're doing about cybersecurity.
But the midterms are almost around the corner and these companies ought to recognize right now a lot of people are questioning their integrity.
HAYES: Senator Ron Wyden, thanks for your time tonight.
That's All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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