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A.G. Sessions testifies in front of the House Transcript 11/14/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Ted Lieu, Ned Price, Frank Figliuzzi

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: November 14, 2017 Guest: Ted Lieu, Ned Price, Frank Figliuzzi

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



JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended --

HAYES: Jeff Sessions returns, but his memory does not.

SESSIONS: I do not recall such a conversation.

HAYES: Tonight, the House interrogates the Attorney General on Trump and the Russians.

SESSIONS: He`s not Russian either, you know.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: You understand, Sir, that I get to ask the questions --

HAYES: And Congressman Ted Lieu on whether Jeff Sessions perjured himself.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: So I`m going to ask you, Mr. Sessions, were you lying then when you filled out the form or are you lying now?

HAYES: Plus --

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: He`s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate.

HAYES: Roy Moore vows to stick it out as even Steve Bannon has second thoughts. And why Democrats are ringing alarm bells as tax reform turns into a sneaks attack to repeal ObamaCare.

SEN. RON WYDEN (R), OREGON: This just flew in literally out of nowhere in the last 20 minutes.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. There is a lot Jeff Sessions doesn`t remember about the Trump campaign and its various contacts with Russian agents. But the one thing he does remember beyond a doubt was his own attempt to head off anything improper. Today the Attorney General returned to testify on Capitol Hill, this time before the House Judiciary Committee, where he was once again compelled to correct the record about his own role in the Trump campaign`s interactions with Russian officials. With Sessions first time testifying under oath since newly unsealed court documents revealed that he was informed during the campaign of efforts by George Papadopoulos, a Campaign Foreign Policy Adviser to connect with senior members of the Russian government.

Both Sessions and the President attended a March 2016 meeting of the campaign`s National Security Committee, which was chaired by Sessions, where, according to those documents, when Papadopoulos introduced himself to the group, he stated, and I`m quoting here in sum and substance, that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin. But in previous appearances on Capitol Hill, as recently as last month, the Attorney General denied any knowledge whatsoever of contacts between Russian proxies and members of 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.


HAYES: OK. Undergoing a fierce grilling today by Democratic lawmakers, Sessions explained he didn`t remember Papadopoulos` comments until he read about them in the press. And while the Attorney General`s memory remained hazy on the specifics of what was proposed, it was crystal clear on Sessions` own response.


SESSIONS: I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel, that Mr. Papadopoulos attended but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Did anyone else at that meeting, including then-candidate Trump, react in any way to what Mr. Papadopoulos had presented?

SESSIONS: I don`t recall.

NADLER: OK. So your testimony is that neither Donald Trump nor anyone else at the meeting expressed any interest in meeting the Russian President or any concerns about communications between the campaign and the Russians.

SESSIONS: I don`t recall it. I remember the pushback. I remember that he suggested an ability to negotiate with Russians or others, and I thought he had no ability or it would not be appropriate for him to do so.


HAYES: Sessions` appearance today follows a long-standing pattern among members of the Trump orbit. Over and over again they`ve outlined a thoroughly exculpatory version of events only to have new information come out directly contradicting the initial account. And still, they insist there`s a new perfectly innocent explanation. Just last night, for instance, the Atlantic broke the story that Donald Trump Jr. was secretly corresponding with WikiLeaks in the run-up to the election, refuting the strong denial by then-Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence that WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign were in cahoots.

It`s the same pattern we saw that Don Jr.`s shifting stories on his meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, with Carter Page`s evolving account of meeting with government -- Russian government officials during his summer 2016 trip to Moscow and with the Attorney General`s own inconsistencies about meetings with the Russian Ambassador. Recall that Sessions testified under oath at his confirmation hearing. He did not have communications with Russians during the campaign. Only for the Washington Post to reveal later that, well, he had, in fact, met with the Russian Ambassador twice, meetings he failed to disclose on security clearance forms. He was asked about that discrepancy today by Democratic Congressman, Ted Lieu.


LIEU: You did have communications with the Russians last year, is that right? Just yes or no?

SESSIONS: I had a meeting with the Russian Ambassador, yes.

LIEU: Great. That`s exactly the opposite answer you gave under oath to U.S. Senate, so again, either you`re lying to the U.S. Senate or lying to the U.S. House of Representatives.


REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY: The time of the gentleman has expired. The witness can answer any further if he chooses to.

SESSIONS: I won`t repeat it, Mr. Chairman, but I hope the Congressman knows, and I hope all of you know, that my answer to that question I did not meet with the Russians was explicitly responding to the shocking suggestion that I, as a surrogate, was meeting on a continuing basis with Russian officials and the implication was to impact the campaign in some sort of nefarious way. And all I did was meet in my office with the Ambassador, which we didn`t discuss anything like that. So I just want to say, I appreciate the Congressman`s right. I guess he can say his free speech. He can`t be sued here. So I just -- my response. I`m sorry that -- that`s my response.


HAYES: Congressman Ted Lieu joins me now. What is your belief? You asked the question. Do you believe Jeff Sessions was forthright and truthful today before your Committee?

LIEU: Thank you, Chris, for your question. Absolutely not. And what`s remarkable is the American public is watching in plain view the Attorney General of the United States lie under oath. He made several statements today that were different than the statements he made under oath to the U.S. Senate just a few weeks ago. That`s not acceptable.

HAYES: What do you mean? What specifically?

LIEU: So before the U.S. Senate, he said he was unaware of any Trump surrogate having communications with the Russians. Today he admitted under oath that George Papadopoulos, who, by the way, worked under him for the National Security Team under the Trump campaign, had communications with the Russians, and, in fact, he shot down a proposal that George wanted for Trump and Putin to meet. That is very different than what he told the U.S. Senate.

HAYES: Well, let me give his version, right? The version that the Attorney General has entered into evidence is, that he didn`t remember that when asked by the Senate that when he read the press reports, he did remember the one detail that he was the one that pushed back against the idea.

LIEU: You know, if this was the only time that happened, maybe it might be somewhat believable but it`s not. We`ve seen this pattern happen before. So before the U.S. Senate earlier this year, he said he had no communications with the Russians, just a flat-out statement. That was wrong because as you noted, the free press showed he had multiple communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The reason that`s so important is because Ambassador Kislyak was known in the U.S. Intelligence Committee as a master spy and a recruiter of spies. That would be a very important fact for people to know. And today was also seen that Jeff Sessions lied on a security clearance form, again denying any contacts with Russian foreign government officials.

HAYES: Again, though, he is saying these are omissions. I mean, the -- I know you are saying he`s lying. And I take that from you but the account that he`s giving, which is this sort of rolling account of a very, very spotty memory. What I`m hearing from you is, you simply do not believe the Attorney General of the United States. You think he came before your Committee today and lied under oath.

LIEU: Yes. It`s not just one statement. If it was just one statement, maybe, but on a security clearance form, he made a false statement about not having any contacts for the last seven years with a foreign government official. He gave his response to that he interpreted differently. Fine. But then he had another false statement before the Senate and then another false statement before the Senate and today he gave different (INAUDIBLE) elements of that.

HAYES: What do you make of his lying? I mean, he took great umbrage when he came before a Senate Committee that anyone would impugn his motivations or his integrity. He took umbrage today at you and said because you`re where you are you can`t be sued, which is -- which is true, in a technical sense. What do you make of that? Do you think that`s sincere?

LIEU: I don`t. And by the way, I do have an advice for the Attorney General. He said I don`t recall so many times that I think he should go see a doctor because he has severe memory loss.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Ted Lieu, thanks for your time tonight.

Ned Price was Spokesman for the National Security Council under President Obama and Analyst at the CIA. Vivian Salama was -- reports on Politics and National Security for the NBC News. Vivian, let me start with you. Sessions knows what he`s doing in a general sense at these committee meetings, at these hearings. And still, it seemed like a pretty rough go up there.

VIVIAN SALAMA, NBC NEWS POLITICS AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: I mean, ultimately, the question here that we`re dealing with is credibility. Let`s just say that he didn`t remember what was going on. It really raises serious questions about the type of operation they were running during the campaign. That someone in his position of authority did not document and keep track of these meetings, which had very serious implications for the campaign. This is not, you know --

HAYES: This is a really good point.

SALAMA: This is a really -- these are really important issues. And when we`re talking about meetings with foreign dignitaries, there`s always a fine line that you walk between appropriate meetings that campaigns generally carry out to, you know, for fact-finding when they`re doing that and crossing the line. And someone like in Jeff Sessions` position at that time should have been keeping very close tabs. You can`t dismiss someone like Papadopoulos who is sitting in those meetings and --

HAYES: Show the picture.

SALAMA: -- a junior staffer. He`s there. Even if he is a junior staffer, he`s still a member of that campaign. And he -- and there`s still accountability for his actions and for what everybody else knew at that table.

HAYES: It`s a really good point because it dovetails something that Sessions said today, Ned which is basically -- and this is -- Steve Bannon said I think a week ago, you know, our campaign could barely collude with the RNC. And then you saw Sessions today basically saying, it was so chaotic, that it`s inconceivable. We were such amateurs. We were so bumbling. It was so all over the place, it`s inconceivable that we could have colluded with the Russians.

NED PRICE, SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Chris, I`d say a couple of things there. First of all, this March 31st meeting that we`re talking about, it really strains credulity that Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn`t recall it or at least didn`t recall it before he was reminded. This was the first meeting of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee that he chaired. He built this committee. He built much of President -- then-Candidate Donald Trump`s foreign policy vision. So it really seems improbable that he didn`t recognize this meeting before the picture surfaced and he was reminded of it.

But second of all, you know, they`ve used this defense that the campaign was chaotic. It was fly by the seat of your pants, that there were some amateurs involved. Well, my response there would be that collusion can have all of those flavors, as well. It could be amateurish, it could be chaotic, it could be fly by the seat of your pants. And frankly, when you put the pieces together, that`s exactly what we have seen, a real hand- handed effort, it seems, to collude with the Russians.

HAYES: You know, one of the other things that Sessions did today that I thought was interesting was a sort of kind of frustration, resentment that he`s being asked to recall these very specific things from over a year ago. And it occurred to me like you run Department of Justice. Assistant U.S. Attorneys are doing this all across the country every day and every interview they do with people, asking them very specific questions about what were you doing a year ago.

SALAMA: Sure. (INAUDIBLE) what I actually remembered when we were thinking about this is Comey going to testify earlier this year and talking about the meticulous notes he would take after every single meeting because that`s what a prosecutor does, that`s what attorneys do is just to document and have any proof if later on any of this is thrown back at them, they have --

HAYES: It`s a really good -- it`s a great point about the sort of culture of compliance or not, right? Because one of the things we have seen, whether or not they colluded or not, Ned, is that whenever someone said, hey, are you interested in something sketchy, there`s a kind of like, well, maybe they mentioned something sketchy from the Trump folks. There`s not a -- like, well, no, I certainly shouldn`t do that and now I will write a memo about why I said no. And that gets me to this WikiLeaks disclosure yesterday which I want to get your thoughts on that Don Jr. is DM-ing with Julian Assange during the campaign.

PRICE: Well, exactly. And so, I think what we learned yesterday really brings this WikiLeaks connection much closer and actually to the center of the campaign. Previously you know, we were aware of Roger Stone`s, whether it was a premonition, whether someone within WikiLeaks had told him that John Podesta`s time in the barrel would be coming, however, he knew, he knew it. But Roger Stone was always this character who was out in the far- flung Netherworld of the Trump Campaign.

Of course, that is not the case with Don Jr. Don Jr. corresponding with WikiLeaks really brings this to the center. And to my mind, this is one of those key smoking guns, along with the Trump Tower meeting from June of last year. This really shows that the Trump campaign was amenable to an approach by WikiLeaks, and it also really destroys any notion that WikiLeaks was this impartial truth-teller and not an instrument of the Russian government an instrument of the Russian government that Don Jr. was all too happy to cooperate with.

HAYES: Eric Swalwell had a question for Jeff Sessions, do you love WikiLeaks, quoting the President. He said no. It seems there -- as much as Sessions was close to the President, it increasingly into the case there are -- there`s a fair amount of daylight between the two men as time goes on.

SALAMA: The President called him beleaguered a couple months ago. I mean, he really doesn`t beat around the bush. They have been definitely growing further apart. The President has not disguised that he is very disappointed in Jeff Sessions for a number of reasons. A., because he didn`t -- because he recused himself in the Russian investigation. President Trump wanted to see him sort of full-fledged fighting the good fight for him and the Justice Department. But there`s a number of other things too. So many executive orders that the President wanted to see carried through, you know, basically the ball was in Jeff Sessions` court. The travel ban, immigration, so many things that he wanted to hit hard on that the justice system basically has made it difficult to do and he blames Jeff Sessions for so much of that. So it`s all snowballing now.

HAYES: Yes, it will be interesting to see how that relationship continues. Ned Price and Vivian Salama, thank you, both.

Next, Jeff Sessions, as Vivian was just saying, faces pressure from Republicans in Congress, and the President to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton. Sessions` fiery response to tough questions, in just two minutes.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am going to instruct my Attorney General to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. People have been -- their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you`ve done and it`s a disgrace.


HAYES: On Capitol Hill today, Congressman Luis Gutierrez reminded Trump`s Attorney General Jeff Sessions about that campaign promise.


REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: He said he as the Attorney General, you to set a special prosecutor. That`s what he said. It`s a quote. I didn`t make it up. What do you say? Are you going to keep that campaign promise?

SESSIONS: I will fulfill my responsibilities.

GUTIERREZ: Are going to -- are you going to keep that campaign promise? It`s just yes or no. It`s a promise that your boss -- he hired you to fulfill. Are you going to --

SESSIONS: We will comply with the law with regard to special prosecutor appointments.

GUTIERREZ: Are you going to appoint one as he promised during the campaign? He`s reminded you a couple of times in a few of his tweets, that that`s what he wants you to do.

SESSIONS: I will fulfill my duty as Attorney General.


HAYES: It`s a good question because there is now a concerted effort on the right involving Congressional Republicans, Trump T.V. and the President himself to pressure Sessions to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton. Thereby, I think they think, distracting from the Mueller investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s time, folks. It`s time to shut it down, turn the tables and lock her up. That`s what I said. I actually said it. Lock her up.


HAYES: The President has been publicly pressing Sessions to investigate Clinton, tweeting, everybody is asking why the Justice Department, FBI, isn`t looking to do all the dishonesty going on with crooked Hillary and the Dems. And at some point, the Justice Department and the FBI must do what is right and proper. Yesterday, the DOJ replied to reputed letters from Congressional Republicans on that very matter, saying, the Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues, raised in your letters and then advise Sessions about whether a special counsel was needed. Today, Sessions battled members of his own party, over whether appointing a prosecutor to investigate the President`s chief political rival, based on right-wing conspiracy theories, was a good idea.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: What`s it going to take to actually get a special counsel?

SESSION: It would take a factual basis that meets the standards of the appointment of a special counsel. We will use the proper standards, and that`s what the only thing I can tell you, Mr. Jordan.

JORDAN: Well, I appreciate --

SESSIONS: You can have your idea, but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it meets the standard it requires a special counsel.

JORDAN: Well said. So let me ask you this. If in fact -- it sure looks like a major political party was working with the federal government to then turn an opposition research document, equivalent of some National Enquirer story into an intelligence document, take that to the FISA Court so that they could then get a warrant to spy on American associate of President Trump`s campaign. That`s what it looks like. And I`m asking you, doesn`t that warrant, in addition to all the things we know about James Comey in 2016, doesn`t that warrant -- naming a second special counsel as 20 members of this Committee wrote you three-and-a-half months ago, asking you to do.

SESSIONS: I would say "looks like" is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel.


HAYES: Joining me now, Frank Figliuzzi who is Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI under then-Director Robert Mueller. Let me start with this. What would it mean to the FBI and Department of Justice if the Attorney General under pressure from the President and his allies were to appoint a special counsel specifically to investigate his chief political rival, as had been promised and as the President said he was going to do.

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE, FBI: Listen, it would be a complete distortion of how you appoint a special counsel and why you appoint a special counsel. Let me give three reasons why we`re unlikely to see a special counsel appointed here. And if we do, something really will smell badly. Number one, the purchase of the -- from the Russian -- by the Russian firm of Uranium One was thoroughly vetted, analyzed and approved lawfully by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, CFIUS. I used to actually back bench the CFIUS meetings for DOJ when I was the Assistant Director at FBI. There`s a unit at FBI Headquarters that does nothing but vet national security issues in foreign purchases. They`re career professionals. Nobody is politically appointed.

Number two, the money that allegedly flowed that we keep hearing about through the Clinton Foundation as some kind of quid pro quo actually flowed prior to Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State. In fact, the major donor that we`re hearing about divested his interest in Uranium One three years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state. And then thirdly, that all-important conflict that you need to see somewhere to appoint a special counsel simply doesn`t exist. Nine agencies approved it. In 2015, several FBI field offices opened cases on the Clinton Foundation, because they read a book called The Clinton Cache. FBI Headquarters consolidated all those cases, gave them to federal -- career federal prosecutors at DOJ and determined conclusively that there was no evidence of a quid pro quo.

HAYES: That is -- OK, so this is a great point. I`m glad you spelled it out and it can be a little dizzying what the actual story is. So the point here is that the factual bases just do not merit a special counsel, A. B, an excellent point --

FIGLIUZZI: There`s no there, there.

HAYES: Yes, an excellent point you just made, which I had almost forgotten about, the sort of Mercer-backed Clinton cash book which is the same people that fund Breitbart and Bannon paid for this book. That was investigated by the FBI already. They have already been through that.

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, been there, done that. DOJ and FBI career professionals said it`s not there.

HAYES: Do you trust -- I mean, there was a lot of interpretation yesterday about that Sessions letter. At first, I think people thought -- Fox News ran with a headline that Department of Justice doesn`t rule out special prosecutor as if like, well, it`s just around the corner. I read the letter and others read the letter as Sessions essentially between the lines saying there is nothing for us to do here but thank you, Congressman, for your input. Which of those two did you read it as?

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, I read it the same way. He`s doing what you do when you get multiple members of Congress requesting you to review something. You`ve got to review it. And he`s telling them, I`m going to review it, I`m going to give it to the career professionals. But I have to tell you, based on my experience, it`s not there. And the ultimate outcome is going to be that there`s no special counsel necessary.

HAYES: It`s hard to answer this question because we`ve so detached, I think, from precedent in how we think about the role between the President and Department of Justice and how the President comports himself. But when you were working at the FBI, I mean, what would it meant if the President was publicly hectoring his Attorney General to open an investigation of his chief political rival?

FIGLIUZZI: Well, I can tell you this. 25 years in counterintelligence, I used to work against countries whose leaders actually intervened in judicial and investigative decisions. And we don`t want to be those countries. It would be a complete distortion of how justice is supposed to work and the checks and balances that exist in our government.

HAYES: What I hear from you though is, as someone who did work there and was a career person that you have -- you have sort of confidence that as we watch -- because we`re watching right now a tremendous amount of pressure being put institutionally on that -- on main justice. I mean, it`s very obvious. I mean, you`ve got, you know, Jeanine Pirro who we just showed you a clip of advising the President, going to the White House, the President himself, all his allies on Congress. What I`m hearing from you, you`re confident of the institutional heft of that place, even under the President`s ally and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resist that pressure.

FIGLIUZZI: I know these people. I know the career professionals who investigate national security conflicts within foreign purchases. And I -- and I know they`re doing the right thing. Now, the big question is, will the leadership of DOJ, will the Attorney General do the right thing with regard to the appointment of a special counsel. And I`m telling you, the right thing, based on facts, is that there`s no need for one.

HAYES: All right, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you for being with me tonight. I appreciate it.


HAYES: Meanwhile in the U.S. Capitol tonight, Republicans are literally running away from questions about Roy Moore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Roy Moore?

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I believe that the Democrats will do great damage to our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you still believe Roy Moore?

BROOKS: I believe that the Democrats will do great damage to our country on a myriad of issues.


HAYES: Our old friend Mo Brooks stuck in an (INAUDIBLE) or a nightmare in Washington. Wait until he hears the insanely anti-Semitic robocall floating around Alabama today. The latest in the Roy Moore saga, next.



REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson, Gloria Thacker. These young women have accused this individual, Judge Moore, who is running for a federal office, the United States Senate, of child sexual activity. Do you believe these young women?

SESSIONS: I am -- have no reason to doubt these young women.


HAYES: Jeff Sessions is part of what seems to be a growing consensus among Capitol Hill Republicans that child molestation, sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore, their party`s nominee for the Alabama Senate Race, are credible. The question now is, what do Republicans do? Today Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan called for Moore to step aside, which he knows he won`t do, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he`s seeking all of the options to prevent Moore from becoming a Senator while still holding on to that seat for the Republican Party.

But here`s the thing. If you don`t think Roy Moore should be in the U.S. Senate, you can simply not vote for a man accused of molesting a 14-year- old girl or assaulting a 16-year-old girl, and of pursuing other teenagers as a grown man. Moore, has, of course, denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, first reported in the Washington Post last week, calling them false. And so far, Jeff Flake remains among the few Republicans willing to say Republicans should not vote for him. In fact, they should affirmatively vote for his opponent.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Well, I think there`s still hope that there could be a write-in candidate or someone who might you know, (INAUDIBLE). And I said all along, I would favor that if we could get another Republican. But if the choice is between a Democrat and Roy Moore, I would choose the Democrat.


HAYES: Moore`s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, is now making a direct pitch to wary Republican voters in Alabama with a new T.V. ad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t decency and integrity matter anymore?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Republican but Roy Moore, no way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m for Doug Jones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m another Republican for Doug Jones.


HAYES: Of the dirty tricks have already begun in this race, up next, the stunning Alabama robocall that you have to hear to believe.


HAYES: So here`s a weird story out of Alabama. A mysterious robocall claiming to be from a Washington Post reporter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, this is Lenny Bernstein. I`m a reporter for The Washington Post. I`m calling to find out is anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old, willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward between $5,000 and $7,000. We will not be fully investigating these claims, however we will make a written report.


HAYES: The call is fake, as you can probably tell by the accent that fluctuates between an anti-Semitic stereotype and some weird kind of Boston amalgam.

The Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron confirmed it is fake, adding the call`s description of our reporting methods bears no relationship to reality. We are shocked and appalled that anyone would stoop to this level to discredit real journalism.

Despite apparent efforts like that robocall to discredit the allegations against Roy Moore, Republicans continue to back away, at least at the national level.

Politico reporting tonight the Republican National Committee has pulled out of its fundraising pact with Moore.

Haley Byrd is a congressional reporter for Independent Journal Review; Lanhee Chen, former adviser to Senator Marco Rubio`s presidential campaign.

Lanhee, I`ll start with you. It seems to me there is a consensus forming largely on Capitol Hill among national Republicans, at least in the Senate, not Mo Brooks, seen running down the stairs there, to distance themselves from Moore. But the question then becomes, then what?

LANHEE CHEN, FORMER ADVISER TO SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Yeah, well, Chris, I think that is the big question. I mean, at this point, I think the strategy, certainly amongst Republican leaders, is to figure out can there be any alternative? Is there anybody else that folks can vote for? You know, the challenges you have, though, is first of all the idea of a write- in candidate. Very difficult for write-ins to win unless they already have universal name identification. And then there`s really not a whole lot else the governor could do. She could push the election date, but that`s going to create all sorts of political problems.

So really they`re stuck between a rock and a hard place. For a lot of Republicans, though, Chris, this is very reminiscent of the 2016 presidential election. You had a lot of people who didn`t want to vote for Donald Trump, who had to figure out what they were going to do. You`re in a very similar situation now for the voters of Alabama.

HAYES: Well, and Haley, you saw Mo Brooks who is a member of congress you`ve reported on. We should say, the new Alabama poll has Moore up six points even after the first revelations -- so not after that Monday allegation of sexual assault. And there`s a -- you know, to Lanhee`s point, there has to be some calculation on Capitol Hill like this guy might pull out and bull through the way the president did.

HALEY BYRD, INDEPNDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: But the people I talked to you know before (inaudible) tonight, actually, still seem sort of convinced that Roy Moore is either going to drop out, you know, maybe reconsider, or Republicans on Capitol Hill could pressure him enough to drop out.

But at this point, it doesn`t look like he`s going to do that. And, you know, there are others who, you know, truly believe that he`s not going to win after this. But their record of predicting who is going to win after scandals like this is, in fact, good after 2016, like you said.

So, you know, the question does remain, what are they going to do if he does win? And I don`t think Republicans have an answer to that yet.

HAYES: They seem to be -- let me follow up on that, Haley. You`re saying that people you talk to on Capitol Hill still retaining hope that they can get him to actually bow out?

BYRD: Yes. Yes.

And, you know, just a quick trip through Roy Moore`s Twitter feed will show you, like he is -- you know, Mitch McConnell says, Roy Moore should step aside. And Roy Moore says Mitch McConnell should step aside.

HAYES: Exactly.

BYRD: So he`s using this like anti-establishment campaign rhetoric that Republicans have used themselves for years to sort of push back against something that most Republicans on Capitol Hill agree is not normal behavior after that Washington Post report.

So it`s interesting to see that dichotomy of that campaign rhetoric, which pretty much all Republicans use in this interesting circumstance.

HAYES: I think that`s -- I mean, I`ve got to say, Lanhee, anyone that thinks a Roy Moore is going to be forced out is wishful thinking. I mean, they are going to -- it seems to me the Republcian Party ends up with two possibilities. Number one, a Democrat wins a seat. Doug Jones is the Democratic opponent. Wins a Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the union. And you have a sort of reverse Scott Brown effect that reverberates and freaks everyone out.

Number two, Roy Moore is the Republican Senator from Alabama with possibly more credible accusations to come about his conduct, and every question of all their colleagues all of the time is about what are you doing about Roy Moore. Aren`t those the two scenarios?

CHEN: Yeah, I mean, neither scenario is particularly good. The one thing I will say, Chris,is I do think there is one person that has the potential to force Roy Moore from this race and that`s Donald Trump. If the president of the United States were to weigh in and to say, look, I`m not supporting this guy any more. It`s not going to happen. That is something that could change the calculus.

But so far, there is no indication that`s going to happen. Republicans don`t have a whole lot of good options. The idea of not seating Roy Moore, by the way, is much more complicated than people realize, because there has to be some form of due process according to Senate rules for that to happen. So the options are very, very limited at this point.

HAYES: Also, Roy Moore is going to fight it. Haley, what do you think about that? I mean, it is very notable that everyone seems to come to their conclusions about the credibility of these allegations, and the fitness of Roy Moore, except the man at the top, the president of the United States, who does have internet and cable news access, even while on his trip, but who is now landing in the U.S. and it`s going to be hard for him to avoid this.

BYRD: And I think you should be expecting maybe the president will address this in some way, shape or form. And I`m sure Republicans are waiting for him to make some sort of statement.

But, you know, you do have to think that Republicans are concerned about losing that seat. And if they do the margin for, like, disagreement in the Republican conference in the Senate right now, it`s so slim, it`s only two votes. And so if you lose that seat, it is like this constant pressure for Republicans right now to think about losing Alabama, especially when you`re trying to push tax reform, all kinds of other stuff, too.

HAYES: Yes. That`s why you`ve got Mo Brooks running down the stairs, basically saying, I will take the accused child molester, the man accused by a tearful woman of attempting to rape her. I will take him over the Democrats, because I don`t like the Democratic Party.

Haley Byrd and Lanhee Chen, thanks for joining me.

BYRD: Thank you.

HAYES: Ahead, the vice president caught in yet another falsehood, raising a question of whether he has no idea what is going on with the administration he serves or whether he`s lying. We`ll look at that, ahead.

Plus, some fiery moments from Jeff Sessions` testimony you probably haven`t seen in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two. Next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, during Attorney General Jeff Sessions` confirmation in January, Representative Cedric Richmond, one of the delegation of Congressional Black Caucus members who spoke out against his appointment, claiming that Sessions had advanced an agenda that will do great harm to black citizens and communities.

Today, Louisiana congressman had the opportunity to confront Sessions face- to-face before the House Judiciary Committee.


REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND, (D) LOUSIANA: How many African-Americans do you have on your senior staff?

SESSIONS: I do not have a senior staff member at this time that`s an African-American.

RICHMOND: Of all of the U.S. attorneys that have been nominated or confirmed, how many have been African-American?

SESSIONS: One in Alabama.

RICHMOND: Out of all of the special agents in charge of FBI bureaus around the country, how many are African-American?

SESSIONS: I do not know.


HAYES: Last question about the FBI comes on the heels of recent report released by the bureau assessing what they call black identity extremists as a possible terror threat to U.S. law enforcement agencies.


REP. KAREN BASS, (D) CALIFORNIA: You are familiar with the term "black identity extremists?"

SESSIONS: Well, I think so, yes.

BASS: So could you tell me what that term means to you? Do you believe that there is a movement of African-Americans that identify themselves as black identity extremists, and what does that movement do?


HGAYES: That answer is Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: On August 3 of this year, a little more than a week before the White supremacist rally in Charlesville turned deadly, the FBI released a report called black identity extremists likely motivated to target law enforcement.

California congresswoman Karen Bass asked Jeff Sessions today about that report and whether there is any equivalent white movement.


BASS: Do you believe that there is a movement of African-Americans that identify themselves as black identity extremists, and what does that movement do?

SESSIONS: Well, it will be interesting to see the conclusions of that report.

BASS: Are you aware of white organizations that do this, as well? Given that white supremacy is well-documented, well-researched movement, such as the Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, et cetera, are they white identity extremists?

SESSIONS: I didn`t follow that question. Please, again?

BASS: Is there a term or a report on white identity extremists.

SESSIONS: Yes. But it`s not coming to me at this moment.

BASS: Not coming to you?


BASS: Certainly, a group such as the Ku Klux Klan.

SESSIONS: And then the Skinhead movement.

BASS: And by the way, would you consider Black Lives Matter a black identity extremist group?

SESSIONS: I`m not able to comment on that. I`m not a -- I have not so declared it.



HAYES: Once again, a public statement by Vice President Mike Pence has proven to be false. After the report that Donald Trump Jr. communicated with WikiLeaks in the run up to the presidential election, Pence`s press secretary released a statement, quote, "the vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks. He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight."

Now, a year ago, sitting on the curvy couch on October 14th, 2016, Pence offered a very similar emphatic denial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some have suggested on the left, all this bad stuff about Hillary, nothing bad about Trump, that your campaign is in cahoots with WikiLeaks.

PENCE: Nothing could be further from the truth. I think all of us have -- you know, have had concerns about WikiLeaks over the years.


HAYES: Nothing could be further from the truth. That obviously turned out not to be true. In fact, according to The Atlantic on September 20th, 2016, the day Trump Jr. first received a message from WikiLeaks, quote, "he emailed other senior officials of the Trump campaign, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump`s son-in-law Jared Kushner, telling them WikiLeaks had made contact. Kushner then forwarded the email to campaign communication staffer Hope Hicks."

Yet we`re supposed to believe that Pence was kept in the dark and no one tried to correct him.

It is amazing how many times Mike Pence has been sent out to make categorical denials that were later proven to be untrue.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Did Mike Flynn ever discuss lifting sanctions in any of those conversations? Do you know?

PENCE: I talked to General Flynn yesterday. And the conversations that took place at that time were not in any way related to new U.S. sanctions against Russia or the expulsion of diplomats.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: Just to button up one question, did any adviser or anyone in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?

PENCE: Oh, of course not.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: The story today that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has filed with the Department of Justice did any adviser or anyone in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?

PENCE: Well, let me say, hearing that story today was the first I heard of it.

BAIER: You`re disappointed about the story?

PENCE: It`s the first I heard of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the president fire Director Comey to impede the Russia investigation?

PENCE: Well, as you know, very clearly, as has been stated repeatedly and the president has been told, he`s not under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But intelligence officials have said there`s investigation into potential ties between campaign officials and Russian officials?

PENCE; That`s not what this is about.


HAYES: In each of those cases, the man who is Donald Trump`s vice president was either fantastically out of the loop or lying.



SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI: So the people this is going to hit are middle class people. So the way I get it is we`re going to make their insurance more expensive, create 13 million uninsured people.


HAYES: Today, Democrats were blindsided at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the GOP tax plan, suddenly learning that the Senate version of the tax bill would repeal a major part of the Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate.

Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking member of that committee, spelled out the impact of that.

SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) OREGON: We were never told that health care was going to be part of it. And this just flew in, literally out of nowhere in the last 20 minutes.

This is partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And that`s why the Congressional Budget Office scored it with such ominous consequences. Millions of people losing coverage, millions of people having their premiums go up.


HAYES: Joining me now, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

So Senator, are they really going to -- is it official that they are including essentially a major part of Obamacare repeal in this tax bill now?


And clearly, Chris, what they`re doing is they`re turning a tax bill into a health care bill. And they had a very clear problem. They`ve made trillions of dollars worth of promises to the multi-nationals and their political donors. They weren`t able to stuff them up into the budget. So they thought, well, let`s get a twofer. Let`s gut health care for working people and then we can have big tax cuts for multi-nationals that ship jobs overseas. It`s a double standard in economics -- big breaks for the people at the top and the powerful hurting the working people.

HAYES: So my understanding, I just want to be clear about this, is that they`ve crafted this bill that still raises the deficit too much. And so they`re desperate to find ways to claw back some money. And the CBO analysis is that you`d have 13 million people or fewer insured, insurance premiums would rise, but the government, because fewer people are being insured, saves money on subsidies, so they get $338 billion they get to use for the corporate tax breaks. Is that the idea?

WYDEN: That`s the idea. And they had the gall today to say they were going to use those hundreds of billions of dollars to help the middle class. That`s just absurd. What they have been doing from the very beginning is trying to find every possible loophole for the powerful, for the multi-nationals, and they do it by taking away from the middle class.

HAYES: So, can they do this? I mean, the Obamacare repeal ran quite legendarily, into problems in the Senate. If you take a complicated tax bill that already has a lot of political resistance among various factions, you add on something that would destabilize insurance markets across the country, does -- are your Republican colleagues going to go for that?

WYDEN: Well, with we`re going to certainly point out that a lot of them have indicated in the past they don`t want to unravel the Affordable Care Act. They don`t want to go back, for example, to the days when health care was for the healthy and wealthy. A key part of this is protecting people who have pre-existing conditions. That`s linked to the individual mandate. And I think a lot of Republicans, when they hear about this, they might have thought it was going to be some sort of freebie to roll this back, but they`re going to hurt a lot of people. They won`t be able to explain it to their constituents and we`d be able to -- we`re going to try and win them over.

HAYES: So, here`s the argument they`re making. I want you to respond to it. They say, look, the individual mandate is the least popular part of the Affordable Care Act. You, Democrats were extremely critical of our cuts to Medicaid. You kept saying, why are you cutting Medicare in our Obamacare repeal. So, if we just do this, we don`t touch Medicaid on one end and we get rid of this tax that people don`t like anyway, how can you stand opposed to that?

WYDEN: What this does is it harms dramatically the Affordable Care Act. The reality is the individual mandate is an integral part of making sure that working class people have coverage and it`s affordable. As I just mentioned, it`s directly linked to protecting the millions who suffer from pre-existing conditions.

This is a backdoor strategy to repeal affordable coverage for millions of Americans. It`s a double whammy. Some will get higher premiums, many will have less coverage. We`re going to make sure the American people know this. And that`s why we appreciate your show to get the facts out.

HAYES: Well, so, they also seem to be really hustling here. I mean, the clip at which they are trying to move this through both houses is very fast. Can you slow it down in the Senate?

WYDEN: We are sure going to try.

Look, I understand why they`re desperate. I mean, these folks have had more losses than some of Trump`s casinos. They`ve gone a whole year without a win, so they are just desperate to put points on the board.

But you don`t make $10 trillion worth of tax policy on the fly. You`ve got to do it, as we saw in 1986, when Democrats and Republicans got together. And by the way, what they were talking about was much more dramatic. They wanted to have the same tax rate for people with wages, for people with investments. So I understand why they`re desperate, we`re going to fight them.

HAYES: All right, Senator Ron Wyden, thank you.

WYDEN: Thank you.

HAYES: That does it for All In this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now, early for a change. Good evening, Rachel.


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