Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 5, 2017 Guest: Maxine Waters, Betsy Woodruff, Natasha Bertrand, McKay Coppins, Steve Schmidt, Robert Costa
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: 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 FEMALE: Mr. President, has Mueller crossed a red line with Deutsche Bank?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has Mueller has crossed the red line, Mr. President? Has Mueller crossed the red line?
HAYES: Following the money.
TRUMP: I am not involved in Russia. I have no investments in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia because we`ve stayed away.
HAYES: Multiple reports that the Mueller investigation has subpoenaed President Trump`s financial records from Deutsche Bank. Tonight, the White House pushback and Congresswoman Maxine Waters on what this means for the President.
Then why Republicans are returning to Roy Moore.
TRUMP: I think he`s going to do very well.
HAYES: As the Democrat in the race fights back.
DOUG JONES, DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE, ALABAMA: A man who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate.
HAYES: And new reporting that Mike Pence plotted a coup in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape.
TRUMP: When you`re a star, they let you do it.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The White House is desperately trying to knock down multiple reports tonight that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed a German-based Deutsche Bank, the biggest lender of money to Donald J. Trump, for information about the President`s financial accounts. After the story was reported this morning, Trump`s personal attorney Jay Sekulow told NBC News, "We have confirmed the news reports the Special Counsel had subpoenaed financial records relating to the President are false. No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources." And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders then quoted Sekulow and slammed the media for getting ahead of what she said were the facts.
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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: I think that this is another example of the media going too far, too fast. And we all see it going in that direction. We know that it hasn`t happened up until this point and that the reports out were totally false. And again, the media got ahead of their skis a little bit on pushing and driving that story that wasn`t true.
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HAYES: OK. Ahead of their skis, it`s false, but here`s the thing. Right now, that would be five different publications "ahead of their skis." Reuters, Bloomberg, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and one of Germany`s leading commercial papers, all business-focused outlets likely to have good sourcing on Deutsche Bank, all reporting tonight, all five of them that Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the bank weeks ago for records related to the President`s private business. Deutsche Bank may already be responding. A person with direct knowledge of its actions telling The Financial Times, the production of Trump-related documents had begun several weeks ago.
While the White House is denying it, the bank notably is not. In a statement to NBC News, Deutsche Bank said only that it "Takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter." Over the past two decades, Deutsche Bank has played a major role in propping up the President`s businesses. After the President suffered a string of high-profile flops in the early 90s, including four, four bankruptcies at his Atlantic City casinos, Deutsche Bank was one of the only big financial institutions willing to do business with Donald Trump. Since then it has helped finance some of his most prominent projects. And by the time he took office, the President owed the bank some $300 million on three different properties, including his brand- new hotel in Washington, D.C. As a result, Robert Mueller`s not the only one who`s been trying to get his hands on Deutsche Bank`s records this year. Congressional Democrats led by Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, wrote a letter to Deutsche Bank demanding information on the President`s accounts.
The bank declined to comply. Maxine Waters will be my guest right here in just a moment. Democrats were also seeking information about Deutsch Bank`s role in a $10 billion -- that`s with a B -- $10 billion Russian money laundering scheme for which it has already paid a big fine earlier this year. You heard that right. The same bank that holds the lion`s share of Donald Trump`s debt helped investors launder $10 billion out of Russia. With news today of the Deutsche Bank subpoena, we`re edging closer to one of the questions at the heart of the Russia investigation. To whom does the President of the United States owe money? Did the Russian government have some kind of financial leverage over its preferred candidate in 2016? The President, of course, has repeatedly denied any Russian financial ties but it`s impossible to know the truth without seeing his tax returns. What we do know, the President does not appear eager for Robert Mueller to examine his finances. Here`s what he told The New York Times last summer.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mueller was looking at your finances, your family`s finances, unrelated to Russia. Is that a red line?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
TRUMP: I would say yes. Yes, I would say yes.
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HAYES: For more on Mueller`s charge to follow the money, I`m joined by Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Congresswoman, the White House is saying there`s nothing to see here, the press got this wrong, we have confirmed it`s not the case. Do you believe them?
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: No.as a matter of fact, they consistently lie at the White House. And not only has the President lied time and time again, but his lawyers even are suspicious -- we`re suspicious of the lawyer, rather, for lying. As a matter of fact, the fact that they said that they tweeted the information about the President having known that Flynn had lied to the FBI, you know, we cannot -- we cannot believe anything that`s coming out of the White House who is constantly lying.
HAYES: You have been seeking records from Deutsche Bank for a while. You wrote a letter asking for records. Why is that-- why is Deutsche Bank so crucial in your mind?
WATERS: Well, Deutsche Bank emerges as extremely important because they`re known to be a money-laundering bank. They have been fined over $600 million between the U.K. and the United States for money laundering. They do not have the kind of operation in the bank that would keep up with what is going on and we can follow what is going on. But they have been known to basically get around the kind of controls that they should have.
In addition to that, they`re the only bank really that will lend money to Donald Trump. Donald Trump has sued them. They have sued him back but yet they continue to lend him large sums of money. Donald Trump owes them $300 million, $170 million of that for the Trump hotel that they have to finance in Washington, D.C. And so I suspect that, yes, Mueller has subpoenaed those records from Deutsche Bank. I don`t know what all of this is about, where they have, you know, the lawyers saying that that is not true. But I believe it`s going to come out, the truth is going to come out, and in the final analysis -- because this President won`t show his tax returns.
WATERS: We don`t know about where a lot of his income and where his money is coming from.
HAYES: There`s of course always been a question about any financial entanglements with Russia. Let me play you what the President has said about the possibility of financial entanglements with Russia. This is the President denying that.
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TRUMP: I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don`t have any deals in Russia.
I have no investments in Russia, none whatsoever. I don`t have property in Russia. A lot of people thought I owned office buildings in Moscow. I don`t have any property in Russia. I am not involved in Russia. No loans, no nothing.
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HAYES: Are you confident that that`s the end of the story?
WATERS: No, I am not. If you`re referring to me.
WATERS: As a matter of fact, I do believe that this President has involvement in Panama. And I do believe that you have some of those people who investing in that operation in Panama are folks who are aligned with the Mafia there and with the crime industry there. And I do believe that he is being paid for some of the units that are being purchased by some of the same people who have criminal involvement and it`s been done in cash. And so we need to find out more about the finances of this President and we need to insist on seeing his tax returns and know what he`s doing and where his money is coming from. And we need to know why Deutsche Bank continues to lend him money.
HAYES: I just want to make sure I understand this because this is something that other people floated. When you talk about paying in cash, there`s an investigation into that Panama property that NBC did as well as others suggesting there were some very unsavory characters involved in that. What you`re saying is your contention is the possibility that Trump properties could be bought in cash as a vehicle for essentially moving money to him, that`s what you`re saying?
WATERS: I do. I do believe that. As a matter of fact, the names don`t follow. But I understand the names are identified by the number of the unit that they`re purchasing and that these purchases are in cash. And it has been identified that some of these people who are buying these units are people who are connected with underworld and criminal activity.
HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, I appreciate you being here tonight.
WATERS: Thank you.
HAYES: Natasha Bertrand is a Political Correspondent for Business Insider where she`s been closely tracking developments in the Russia investigation. Betsy Woodruff, Politics Reporter for The Daily Beast who got a new piece today on Deutsche Bank`s ties to Trump family and the Mercers and to Russian nationals. Betsy, I have to start with you. What do you make of this back and forth? My sense is that the White House if it is true that Mueller has indeed subpoenaed this, has to be absolutely panicked about that.
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. It`s also not certain in the least that the White House necessarily would know. And on top of all this, I think your viewers can probably assess for themselves the credibility of the President`s legal team as a group of narrators. That said, one thing we`ve known from the offset of the Mueller investigation is the single biggest concern for President, for Jared Kushner, for folks in their inner circles about this investigation is that Mueller will find evidence of a financial crime. It might not necessarily be something that directly relates to Russia. It might not be something that relates to events that happened in the 2016 election. But we know, we can say with total confidence, that the potential for financial wrongdoing is what makes White House folks lose sleep at night.
HAYES: Well, this -- and this -- I want to -- in sort of, in fairness, right? I mean, if you took a large real estate developer in New York, any one of them, and you handed over the totality of their financial documents to Robert Mueller, the possibility of some impropriety is not low. I mean, this is a business where there`s a lot of foreign money, particularly at high-end New York real estate and places like Miami and other places. There`s a lot of very suspect money that is sloshing in and out of those places. That`s just your average, off-the-shelf developer. Now imagine it`s the Trump enterprise.
NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE BUSINESS INSIDER: Right, and we`ve talked about this on your show going forward. Real estate is kind of an inherently shady business. But what Mueller is really looking for is whether or not the Russians have any leverage over Donald Trump or whether they managed to cultivate any kind of compromising information on him through money over the course of his decades-long you know, business empire. And that really is why Mueller now is doing this. He`s not going on some kind of fishing expedition or witch hunt that the White House would have people believe just for the sake of trying to catch Trump in some kind of financial crime. He`s actually looking for whether or not there was a reason why Donald Trump was so friendly to the Russians during the campaign and why they have shown such interest in him for so long.
HAYES: You`ve also talked about the fact that this bank, Deutsche Bank, had a sort of special relationship with VEB Bank, which is notable because that`s a sanctioned Russian bank, the head of whom met famously with Jared Kushner during that transition period.
BERTRAND: Right, so they signed kind of a joint cooperation agreement in 2006 agreeing to pursue closer ties in the future. And of course, Jared Kushner did meet with Sergey Gorkov the CEO of the bank in December at Trump Tower. And we still don`t really know what that meeting was about. The White House and the Russian bank have actually gave conflicting explanations about that meeting. Jared Kushner and his people have said that it was a campaign-related meeting, was at that point a transition- related meeting. And then the bank said it was actually business-related. So we`ve gotten conflicting explanations and that has yet to be resolved.
HAYES: Betsy, I wonder sometimes as I watch Sekulow put out a statement Sarah Huckabee Sanders, how much this is an audience of one enterprise, which is basically, there`s a whole group of people, Ty Cobb I think chief among them, invested in restraining the President by convincing him everything is going to be OK.
WOODRUFF: There`s no doubt that any time any senior White House official goes on the record to media, they`re talking overwhelmingly to an audience of one. The reality is, it`s incredibly impressive that the President`s lawyers have managed somehow to keep him from going after Mueller more than he already has. Obviously, the President`s criticism of the FBI and the Mueller probe is pointed. It`s surprising. It`s something that good governance advocates have criticized from Jump Street. But it could have been a lot worse. Let`s remember the way the President`s rhetoric often went quite over the top during the campaign. The fact that Ty Cobb, the President`s lawyer, has consistently told media, everything`s fine, the White House isn`t worried, we have a good relationship with Mueller, we`re cooperating. I think we can say with a high degree of confidence that that`s affected the way Trump views the Mueller probe.
Now, I don`t think it`s permanently changed it, it doesn`t mean Trump is fine with Mueller investigating. But the reality is what we can say with a high degree of confidence is that look, the President`s attorneys, his legal team, are telling him that he doesn`t need to be worried about the Mueller investigation. And that certainly seems to have some sort of impact on the way the President views it.
HAYES: And you can imagine the news breaking today about this would put a dent in their efforts, that all reporting indicates they`ve been - they`ve been making to keep him calm about this whole thing. Another development today I wanted to get your take on which is NBC News reporting exclusively that Donald Trump Jr. in that infamous meeting in Trump Tower where he was offered you know, the Russian government`s efforts to help your father, the meeting with the Russian lawyer, that he specifically asked the Russian lawyer for info on the Clinton Foundation. The sort of nearest confirmation we have of the actual ask, the attempt to collude, the attempt to solicit being made.
BERTRAND: Right. So now at this point, it`s not just Donald Trump Jr. writing in an e-mail, if it`s what you say it is I love it, and you know, indicating that he`d be willing to accept such Clinton dirt if it were offered to him. It`s actually he went to the meeting and he asked Veselnitskaya please give me dirt on Hillary Clinton, give me dirt on whether or not there were illicit donations made to the Clinton Foundation. And that is a really significant development because it indicates his state of mind, it indicates intent kind of beyond a reasonable doubt. If you take Veselnitskaya `s word for it. Now, she`s not exactly the most reliable narrator throughout all this. I mean, she has her own motivations of course. But there really is no reason to doubt that this would have happened given Donald Trump Jr.`s response to those e-mails.
HAYES: We should say the sourcing for that, a written question submitted to Veselnitskaya by one of the Congressional Committees which NBC News obtained. All accounts of that meeting, we still don`t know what happens inside the meeting. The way that all parties make it sound is like a very bad blind date where people were extremely excited to be there then it went bust very quickly. Maybe that happened or maybe not, we don`t know the actual answer. Natasha Bertrand and Betsy Woodruff, thank you, both.
WOODRUFF: OK, sure thing.
HAYES: Still ahead, how the Republican Party at large is now officially, institutionally rallying behind Roy Moore one week from election night. Tonight, new reporting that Mike Pence was contemplating a coup in the wake of the Hollywood -- Access Hollywood tape, ready to replace Trump as the Nominee. That`s just one of many new details in a great new profile out by McKay Coppins who joins me in two minutes.
HAYES: -- wife of Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, finds President Donald Trump "reprehensible and just totally vile." That claim comes from a former campaign aide quoted in a new profile of the Vice President by The Atlantic`s McKay Coppins. In a piece titled God`s Plan for Mike Pence, not only do we learn that Karen Pence was disgusted by Donald Trump in the wake of the release of the Access Hollywood tape. We also learn that the Vice Presidential Candidate himself was participating in a kind of soft coup at the time as panicking billionaire donors were considering offering Trump $800 million to drop out of the race. According to several Republicans familiar with the situation, Pence made it clear to the Republican National Committee he was ready to take Trump`s place as the party`s nominee. Since that time, Mike Pence has shown nothing but total devotion to Donald Trump. "An obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the President appears boundless."
But as Coppin writes -- Coppins writes "For all his aw shocks modesty, Pence is a man who believes heaven and earth have conspired to place him a heartbeat or an impeachment vote away from the presidency." With me now, McKay Coppins, Staffer Writer at The Atlantic who wrote that fantastic piece on Mike Pence. It is a great piece of reporting and a great piece of writing. I want to start with Reince Priebus who says, you never called him or contacted him to talk about this and your characterization of the soft coup is totally, totally wrong. What do you say?
MCKAY COPPINS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, look, he can deny it if he wants, my sourcing is solid. And as for his claim that I never reached out, I e-mailed him twice and left a message at his office. I don`t know what he`s talking about there.
HAYES: Reince Priebus. All right, well, there is sort of -- I mean, here`s the core of this piece, right? The core of the piece is this kind of literally deal with the devil. I mean, not literally, figuratively deal with the devil where here`s this genuinely pious man, genuinely devout man who is -- who is now sort of the subordinate to a person who`s just manifestly has none of the shared values with him or the movement he represents. How does that work?
COPPINS: Yes, well that is the fundamental contradiction of Mike Pence. And it`s also frankly a compromise -- it`s a compromise that he had to make, but it`s also a compromise that millions of conservative Christians in this country had to make last year and continue to make. And that compromise is also playing out in Alabama now. The story of Mike Pence in a lot of ways is the story of the religious right. A story of kind of the compromises of principles and standards and values that they`re willing to make to basically attain political power. And in Mike Pence`s case, it`s all wrapped up in both his faith and his personal ambition. As you read in that introduction, he really is a man who believes he has kind of a sense of destiny about him, that he`s destined for great things, that God wants him to be in the political realm kind of pushing forward his will. And when you think like that I think it`s easy to make a lot of compromise and to rationalize a lot of things.
HAYES: I want to play this clip of him on the Christian broadcasting network because it`s a perfect example of the kinds of straight-faced -- I don`t know -- untruths that he has called upon to utter in his job. Take a listen.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cabinet bible studies, playing in the oval office, evangelicals around the country are going, wow, seems like a new day in Washington. What is going on as we would say spiritually at the White House?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: I`ve been with this President in the Oval Office, with religious leaders, when people have asked to pause for a moment of prayer and the President readily embraces that. I want to be clear, President Trump is a believer and so am I.
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HAYES: What`s amazing is the straight-faced, earnest delivery of things that are obviously untrue. I mean -- I mean, I guess maybe the President believes in God but the idea that he has a shred of religiosity in him is just belied by every -- literally everything we know about him.
COPPINS: Well, right. And it is almost a little unnerving to watch the way that Mike Pence will kind of be called upon to both defend Trump, to champion him, to say things about him that are just so clearly untrue. I mean, remember the vice presidential debate when he would flatly deny that Trump ever said things that he clearly had said. It was -- it was kind of unnerving and a lot of the Christians that I`ve talked to who have known Mike Pence over the years, they told me, you know, it was alarming to watch this. Because even Democrats in Indiana told me, you know, for all our ideological disagreements with Mike Pence, we always thought he was a good, decent man at heart. He was a man of genuine devotion. And a lot of them said that it was just -- it was very unnerving to see the way that, in their words, he sold his soul to Donald Trump.
HAYES: There`s this question about the sort of degree of Machiavellian plotting from Mike Pence, right? There always this questions about how he`s sort of waiting for the -- he`s got his eye on the throne. And now there`s a complicating factor of the Mueller investigation which as of yet has yet to reach him, and yet we know that he was the head of the transition that is now absolutely under the microscope of this investigation. How much is that weighing on him and the people around him?
COPPINS: Well, definitely the people around him are talking about this. You know, there`s no question that they`re a little worried. Because as you said, he was the head of the transition. Now, we don`t know what he knew. You know, the official line coming out of the Vice President`s office has always been that, you know, for example, in the case of Mike Flynn, Mike Flynn simply lied to him, he didn`t know anything about the meeting with the Russians or anything like that. That -- maybe that`s true, maybe it`s not.
Certainly, the people in Trump`s orbit I know that I`ve talked to are worried about Mike Pence. They`re worried about how loyalty -- how loyal he will stay to Trump next year as this investigation continues, as potentially more indictments come down, as the kind of vultures start to circle over the White House. You know, there might come a point where Trump really needs to rely on Mike Pence and his contacts on the Hill and his deep ties in the Republican establishment. And there`s -- it`s an open question whether he`ll be there for him.
HAYES: All right, McKay Coppins, again, great piece, check it out, thanks for making time.
COPPINS: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Still to come, how the President is catering to his base at the potential expense of world stability. Steve Schmidt on the Molotov cocktail Donald Trump launched right into the Middle East right after this.
HAYES: In the daily fire hose of news of the Trump administration, every now and then a story comes along that highlights the true stakes of Donald Trump being the most powerful man in the world. We have one of those tonight with the news that President Trump called Middle East leaders to inform them of his plan to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and eventually move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. The President`s decision to unilaterally declare the city of Jerusalem Israel`s capital breaks with nearly seven decades of U.S. policy, since the creation of the Israeli State. Jerusalem currently functions as a divided city claimed as a capital by both Israelis and Palestinians.
Its final status is perhaps the single most explosive question in the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This move comes against the warnings of the Secretary of State Tillerson and Defense Secretary Mattis, French President Emmanuel Macron warned President Trump yesterday not to do it. The King of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the region, particularly at the moment, called the move "a dangerous step." But it`s something that the President repeatedly promised on the campaign trail, often to huge applause.
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TRUMP: We will move the American Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s kind of the build the wall of foreign policy. But it is one of the most explosive regions in the world. Jerusalem is the city revered as holy by Muslims, Christians, and Jews. In the past, it has been the site of protests and riots and violence that has sparked wider conflict in the region. The issue is so combustible the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem issued a security warning for government employees in the region after the news of Trump`s decision. An Arab Israeli lawmaker tweeted "Trump is a pyromaniac who could set the region on fire with his madness." Like I said, it highlights the true stakes of Donald Trump being the most powerful man in the world. Steve Schmidt is here next.
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HAIM SABAN, SABAN CAPITAL GROUP: How do you operate with people who basically, you know, with all due respect, a bunch of orthodox Jews who have no idea about anything? What are you guys doing?
Seriously, I don`t understand this.
JARED KUSHNER, TRUMP SON-IN-LAW: So, I`ll definitely say it`s not a conventional team, but...
SABAN: You can say that again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Israeli-American businessman Haim Saban pointing out this weekend that maybe the president`s crack Middle East team isn`t so hot after all. He was pointing out to Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president and leading adviser on Middle East policy, a job he landed despite having no experience in the Middle East or in foreign policy or government at all, but he does have one very key qualification: he married the president`s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
And so with that Jared Kushner is now representing America in some of those volatile regions in the world.
With me now by phone MSNBC contributor Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican strategist.
Steve, we have some studio difficulties, but it`s good to have you on the phone. What do you make of this president at this moment surveying the world and saying, what we need now is an extremely provocative move by the U.S. to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel?
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Upending, as you pointed out Chris, of seven decades of American policy, and the result here will be human deaths. People will die as a result of this decision in the Middle East. There will be violence. There will be protests. American nationals will be endangered as they`re traveling throughout the region, throughout Europe. And the open question is, is how many people? How big will the flames get from the fire he has just lit?
Again, another profoundly irresponsible, reckless decision by this president, who clearly has no concept, no idea of the tensions, of the history, of the history of the last 70 years, of the last 2,000, as he meddles in this space and makes a situation that was tense much worse.
HAYES: What do you make -- I mean, Jared Kushner has been the sort of kind of unofficial envoy to this part of the world. He`s -- there`s reporting that, you know, the new Saudi prince, he`s been staying up late at night plotting with him and he`s rounding up officials. He`s flying around -- what does it mean to have the U.S. be represented by this individual who has no qualifications while as far as we can tell the State Department is entirely in the dark about what he`s up to?
SCHMIDT: This is why we have nepotism laws in this country. This is how a banana republic operates, with the privileged children indulged by the leader of that country, despite whatever limitations they may or may not have.
He has no business, no business, no experience being involved in statecraft at this level. It`s dangerous. The consequences of it are immense. And his bumbling around in that region makes every American less secure, less taken care of.
HAYES: Steve, I`m told we actually have the shot up now, if you could put your piece in, if that`s possible, and you can hear my voice and we can get that shut up we were having technical difficulty before. And as you do that, I want to ask about the ways in which sometimes it seems to me part of the president`s sins have to do with him not doing the kind of two-step that politicians before him have done.
And this seems like one of those cases. This is a sort of annual promise by politicians, Democrats also, but particularly Republican politicians, we`re going to move the embassy to Jerusalem, we`re going to declare it the capital, no official position on which is the capital. A lot of dancing back and forth to sort of play the base along, but not do it because it`s dangerous. And then in comes Donald Trump, who`s sort of incapable of actually playing the game.
SCHMIDT: For sure. Listen, political candidates of both parties do this, because to some degree all campaigns exist in an alternate reality. Once someone wins the presidency and they take the oath of office, they exist in the real world.
SCHMIDT: Which is why for seven decades the United States would never think to undertake such a provocative action, which is to unilaterally move the embassy to Jerusalem. This is what happens when you have a president who`s as completely unprepared with regard to his duties, his job, his sense of history, as this one is.
HAYES: It also strikes me this is part of a reporting that we got about the president, particularly at regards to the Roy Moore race, about being obsessed with not losing his base, that as the Russia investigation, his approvals in 35 percent, 36 percent, that the endorsing Luther Strange and being rebuked by the voters in Alabama, that primary really shook him. This is part of a broader strategy, which is to go to the hardest of the hard-core supporters.
SCHMIDT: No doubt. There`s a lot of intensity behind this issue among evangelical Republicans who today I think in the history of the Republican Party, maybe the lowest, darkest hour. The party reversing its position, openly supporting a credibly accused child molester, a pedophile in a United States senate race.
And all of this, Chris, takes place in the context just a few days ago with President Trump`s praising of a British fascist organization and bringing the condemnation of parliamentarians of both parties on him.
The sad fact is, is the president of the United States is not welcome in England, that the consensus is that his presence as the American head of state standing next to the queen is an unconscionable assault on her dignity.
Sad, sad times for the United States.
HAYES: I should say that we have a shot up of Steve Bannon, who is in Alabama at this moment. And Bannon has been one of the people who has been pushing -- both pushing Moore and pushing the Jerusalem issue I think emanating out of that same place which is, he sees never get on the wrong side of your base as the North Star for this president.
SCHMIDT: There`s no question about it. And Donald Trump is the first president I think in the history of the country who makes no pretense about being the president of all the country.
HAYES: That`s right.
SCHMIDT: He is the leader of a faction, that faction`s 33 percent, 34 percent of the country. You have a Republican majority in the congress that has embraced Trumpism fully, has surrendered to it, has turned a blind eye to his degradations of the office. And so what you have now is really a super-minority with 100 percent of the political power in the federal government, in Washington, D.C. And it won`t be until November 2018 until voters will have a chance to put a check on it.
HAYES: All right.
Steve Schmidt on the right there. Steve Bannon on the left. People have taken very different trajectories for Republican politics in the last few years.
Steve Schmidt, thanks for joining us.
SCHMIDT: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Still ahead, the opposite trajectories of handling sexual misconduct allegations as a senior Democrat announces his retirement while the Republicans return to Roy Moore.
Plus, the president`s own attorney general in his own words on obstruction in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, what is going on with President Trump`s legal team? As new questions are being raised about President Trump`s possible obstruction of justice, the president`s personal lawyer, John Dowd, offered a surprising and, well, controversial defense, quote "the president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under the constitution`s Article II and has every right to express his view of any case."
The claim echoed a defense offered earlier in the day on Trump TV by Alan Dershowitz. But the suggestion from Trump`s lawyer the president was above the law was walked back today by a different Trump lawyer. The Washington Post reports, quote, "Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer overseeing its handling of the Russia investigation and who plays the good cop to Dowd`s bad cop, said the Dershowitz/Dowd theory was not the president`s official legal theory. It`s interesting as a technical/legal issue, but the president`s lawyers intend to present a fact-based defense, not a mere legal defense. That should resolve things but we all shall see."
But as Trump`s lawyers struggled to get on the same page, perhaps they should look to Jeff Sessions who has weighed in on this very issue. That truly revelatory piece of video is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: How does Attorney General Jeff Sessions feel about obstruction of justice, and specifically whether a sitting president can obstruct justice? Let`s go to the videotape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS: If he can show he did not commit obstruction of justice, and taht he can complete his term. But there are serious allegations that that occurred. And in America, in Supreme Court and the American people believe no one is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: No one is above the law, even the president. That was Senator Jeff Sessions in 1999, talking about possible obstruction of justice by President Bill Clinton. He was unequivocal. So, if we reach a place in which a sitting president is found to have committed obstruction of justice or another crime, just remember where Jeff Sessions stands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: And in America, in the Supreme Court and the American people believe no one is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Democratic and Republican parties are heading in opposite directions right now when it comes to allegations of sexual misconduct. Today, amid pressure from his democratic colleagues, Michigan Democrat John Conyers, a man who served with L.B.J., a genuine civil rights icon with a remarkable record in the United States Congress, announced his retirement in the wake of news that several former aides had accused him of sexual harassment.
Democrats initially rallied around Conyers who seemed to want to hang on to his seat in an instantly infamous appearance on NBC`s Met the Press, Nancy Pelosi seemed to play down the accusations while stressing Conyers` work on behalf of women. But Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues were successfully shamed for that stance, and within days the entire house democratic leadership, including Pelosi, was calling on Conyers to resign. And then he did.
Things are different in the GOP with Republicans now taking their cues from a man who`s been accused of unwanted physical contact on the record by 15 different women, including groping. President Trump offered yesterday his full-throated endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl that he met and picked up outside a custody hearing and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old, among other allegations.
Not too long after those allegations first surfaced, about a month ago, Republicans expressed their shock and dismay. Mitch McConnell said he believed the women, called on Moore to withdraw. GOP leaders talked openly about replacing Moore on the ticket, and even expelling him from the Senate if he were elected. Oh how things have changed. McConnell now says it`s up to the people of Alabama to decide. The Republican National Committee, which had cut ties with Moore`s campaign after the man was credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old he picked up outside a custody hearing, they have now reinstated its support for Moore after Trump`s endorsement.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who initially stood with McConnell`s call for Moore to withdraw after he was credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old he picked up outside a custody hearing, now says if Moore wins the election, we should recognize him as a sitting senator, and frankly, if he gets elected, that will settle an awful lot of questions. Huh.
At least Sarah Sanders does seem perhaps to be capable of a little bit of shame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it the White House`s position, then, it is worse to have a Democrat in that Senate seat than somebody accused of sexually abusing a teen girl.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We find the allegations troubling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did the president endorse?
SANDERS: Look, those are different things in terms of we won`t be the ones to determine that process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tonight in Alabama one week ahead of the election, President Trump`s fired chief strategist, two shirted strategist genius, Steve Bannon, is rallying with Moore, and even though they`re not present, nearly the entire Republican party is on that stage with them.
This afternoon Moore`s Democratic opponent Doug Jones absolutely unloaded on Moore and the GOP for standing by his side. That most-watch video right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG JONES, (D) SENATE CANDIDATE: It is crystal clear these women are telling the truth and Roy Moore is not.
This is about decency and not a political party and anyone who thinks otherwise should be ashamed. I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate.
HAYES: That`s a man currently running neck and neck it appears against Roy Moore, former U.S. Attorney in Alabama Doug Jones.
Joining me now, former Republican congressman from Oklahoma Mickey Edwards and MSNBC political analyst and Washington Post national political reporter Robert Costa who is in Birmingham, Alabama tonight. And Robert, let me start with you. It`s hard to get your hands around this race. The polling is all over the place. You`ve got polling that shows Jones up after people said basically this thing is over. No one knows how to model the turnout. What are you hearing and seeing down there?
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC: Covering Doug Jones today, the Democrat, you heard him pitch business-minded Republicans. He talked about the auto companies that came into the deep south and been a real job generator in the region and said to the voters, especially those on the fence that may not agree with positions on social issues, if you want the jobs to come in, the state`s reputation matters. Jones, at the last closing chapter of the race, is trying to elevate the race into a bigger question about the state`s identity and future.
HAYES: Micki, I got to see you`ve been in politics longer than I have, you actually served as a member of Congress in the Republican party. I think I was under perhaps the naive idea if you were credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl and sexual assaulting a 16-year-old, that would probably spell the end of your political consider rear and that would be my assumption. Can you believe this is where we are right now?
MICKEY EDWARDS, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Yeah, I do believe it and it frightens me because me because we`ve reached a point in our political party system and the tribalism where it`s permanent war and there are members of the Republican party now in the U.S. Senate and House who think that almost anything is better than letting somebody from the other party win and, you know, for awhile, I would push back and say but, you know, the Republican party isn`t supporting Moore, that was the way the primary turned out and because of the rules but no, the party owns this.
It`s fine for Mitch McConnell and others to sit around and say well, we don`t like this. We`re not glad the National Committee will support them. What can we do? Every one of those senators has a couple of members of the Republican National Committee in their states and they have a lot of influence with. They can intervene. They can stop this, but they are not. It`s all words right now.
So you`ve got the Republican party can say that`s not us as a party. It is us as a party and they are not going to escape it. It`s not just Alabama`s reputation on the line here. It`s the Republican party`s reputation.
HAYES: Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is critical, tweeted this out today, "Country over party", with a picture of a $100 donation to Doug Jones. You don`t see that a lot in our current environment. We should also say that there are two senators, Flake and Corey Gardener of Colorado who say, we`ve been calling around, who tell us they would object to Moore being seated.
Robert, are you hearing from folks down there, there is two ways I hear Republicans talk about voting for Moore. One is they don`t believe the women, it`s an orchestrated conspiracy. Or, they believe the women but there is more important things than what he did to them. What are you hearing?
COSTA: I`ve been driving all around the state and what you notice in small towns or big cities in Alabama there are many Doug Jones signs but there is still quiet support for Roy Moore. Republicans I talked to say well, I don`t like him that much or I don`t approve of his conduct. I`m not sure about the allegations, but I`m still going to vote for him.
That seems to be some of the Republican sentiment I`m picking up in my reporting, but it`s a very narrow race based on my reporting.
HAYES: Mickey, do you think -- what are the stakes of an actual win or loss here? I mean, I wonder sometimes whether a loss here would jar the party in someways that you can`t get away with it, you can`t Access Hollywood your way through this or whether it wouldn`t matter. What do you think?
EDWARDS: Well, to be quite honest, Chris, I no longer think it would matter. It`s as though the party has gotten to the point where it was Hatch who said last week that Donald Trump is the best president he has ever served under. I didn`t know senators serve under a president. There is a sense they have to go along, this tax bill they`re in love with, or whatever other legislation it is just matters more than the integrity of the United States Senate. They don`t seem to care about the institution or about the Constitution or about the processes of government.
It`s about our tribe and what do we have to do to get our bill passed. It really reflects badly on the party and they will have a hard time recovering from helping Roy Moore get into the U.S. Senate if that`s what happens.
HAYES: Quickly, Robert, does it feel like a tight race like anyone knows?
COSTA: It does because suburban voters in Birmingham, this is a swing area. Some in Mobile or Huntsville where they have development are worried about the state`s reputation. But ideologically, this remains a Republican state so as much as Doug Jones is pitching them in the final few days to come over, it`s a difficult argument to make in this state with these demographics.
HAYES: We should note that Steve Bannon was down there tonight. He has endorsed Moore -- Moore was all but guaranteed to win that primary against Luther Strange, sort of swooped in at the end, and has helped maneuver the Republican Party into full-throated support of a man who stands credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old.
Mickey Edwards and Robert Costa, thank you both for being with me tonight.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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