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18 Days Transcript 12/11/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Sam Seder, David Jolly, Natasha Bertrand, Julia Ioffe

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 11, 2017 Guest: Sam Seder, David Jolly, Natasha Bertrand, Julia Ioffe



HAYES: All eyes on Alabama.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: The state of Alabama deserves better.

HAYES: The President`s last-minute push to elect Roy Moore as a #MeToo backlash reaches the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump should resign.

HAYES: Tonight three Trump accusers come forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do we draw the line as women coming together in this country saying no.

HAYES: And the White House responds.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: That`s the President said himself. He thinks it`s a good thing that women are coming forward. The American people knew this and voted for the President.

HAYES: Then an NBC News exclusive on the Flynn lie to the FBI.

TRUMP: I didn`t direct him but I would have directed him if he didn`t do it.

HAYES: Robert Mueller now investigating what the President knew and when he knew it, as the plot to stop Mueller takes a dark turn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s time to take them out in cuffs.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. It was absolutely inconceivable just six months ago to imagine a Democrat with a real chance to win a Senate seat in Alabama. That`s a state that President Trump won by 28 points, a state that hasn`t gone blue in a presidential election in more than 40 years. Alabama should be a gimme for basically any Republican. But on the eve of the special election in that state, a poll from none other than Fox News finds that Democrat Doug Jones is leading Republican Roy Moore by an astounding 10 point, 50 percent to 40 percent. Now, let`s be clear. That poll is an outlier. Other polls show Roy Moore with a similar lead but here is the thing. This is a real race.

Tomorrow it is time for Alabama to choose what kind of man will represent that state in the U.S. Senate, and it`s time for Republicans to choose what kind of party they have. One willing to put aside morality to cast ballots for a man credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old? A man whose unrepentant bigotry defines the rule of law rendered him manifestly unfit to serve even before the allegation against him emerged. It`s a defining moment for the GOP and Republicans are, well, they`re choosing sides or at least sort of. Yesterday Alabama senior Senator Richard Shelby took the near unprecedented step of going on national television to make clear he would never vote for his party`s home state candidate.


SHELBY: I understand we would like to retain that seat in the U.S. Senate. But I tell you what, there is a time, we call it a tipping point. And I think so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip when it got to the 14-year-old story, story, that was enough for me. I said I can`t vote for Roy Moore.


HAYES: Roy Moore for his part appears to be trying his absolute hardest to just avoid answering hard questions altogether. He`s made less than ten public appearances in the past month, unprecedented for a campaign like this. And until tonight, hadn`t held a campaign event since Tuesday, a bizarre disappearing act in the run-up to Election Day. Moore did manage to speak to a -- well, a Breitbart news reporter who didn`t ask him about the allegations. And a decision that a normal campaign might have found problematic, Moore also sat for an interview with a 12-year-old girl. That event was organized by a pro-Trump super PAC. Moore did address the allegations in a third interview when he did claim again all nine of his accusers are lying.


ROY MOORE, GOP SENATE CANDIDATE, ALABAMA: These allegations are completely false. I did not date underage women. I did not molest anyone. And so these allegations are false.


HAYES: I did not molest anyone. Democrats are already pushing for safeguards in case Moore wins. Congresswoman Gwen Moore calling on the Senate Sergeant at Arms to take steps to protect Senate pages as "It would be unconscionable for Congress to not be vigilant and proactive in taking precautions to safeguard these children given the well-sourced allegations against Roy Moore." Those allegations do not seem to bother President Trump, who of course like Moore faces multiple credible accusations of sexual misconduct. Trump has gone all -- Trump has gone all in on Moore, rallying on stage for him last Friday, and now with a last-minute robocall.


TRUMP: Hi, this is President Donald Trump, and I need Alabama to go vote for Roy Moore. It is so important. We`re already making America great again. I`m going to make America safer and stronger and better than ever before. But we need that seat. We need Roy voting for us.


HAYES: Moore is also being aided by Trump`s former Adviser Steve Bannon who will be joining Moore tonight in an election eve rally. You can see it there, and whose Breitbart Web site has sought to discredit Moore`s accusers. Democrats have also left him to the fray. Former President Obama and former Vice President Biden have both recorded robocalls on behalf of Doug Jones and prominent Democrats, including my next guest have traveled to Alabama to campaign for Doug Jones. Joining me now Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who has just returned from a weekend campaigning with Doug Jones in Alabama. Senator, your impressions of your weekend in Alabama.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I`m fired up. I want to be clear. I was pretty skeptical before I went down there, looking at a lot of the national news and the national numbers. But when I got to the ground, the energy, the enthusiasm was incredible. I went to rallies, to many church, college campuses and there is a feeling that this is a movement down there. It`s not just a campaign, but there`s something larger at stake and I really energized and fired me up as well.

HAYES: What is -- you know, one of the things I`ve heard from folks, and I think as people looking outside into this race, not necessarily people in Alabama who I`ve been in contact with, but outside and you know, what is -- what is the movement? What is the substance other than prevent Roy Moore from becoming a U.S. Senator?

BOOKER: Well, I think it`s a little differently shaped that I saw when I was down there. It`s a sense of Alabama pride. You have to understand, this is a great American state and you`ve been hearing in the national media people talking down about Alabama, making fun of Alabama, or trying to say that Roy Moore is somehow indicative of Alabama. You go down there, and I was encountering black folks and white folks who really felt like this was an opportunity, to tell the truth. Not about who Alabama wants to be, but about who Alabama is. And when you`re in historic cities of struggle and overcoming great obstacles like in Birmingham, when you`re in Lowndes County where the marchers from Montgomery -- excuse me -- from Selma to Montgomery were, this incredible traditions of fight and spirit there. I think that pride of place really came out to me and I fell in love more with Alabama in my weekend there.

HAYES: Well, Alabama is a great state. I will attest to that, having been there. And you know, of course, you mentioned race here and struggle. And obviously, it was the capital of the Confederacy. It was you know, King -- Dr. King`s church in the bus -- the site of the bus boycott and Governor George Wallace. And I want to read you a robocall apparently that`s going around from Jones -- from Moore`s supporters about race in this race. Take a listen. "Desperate to steal the senate race, Jones and his race hustling allies are trying to start a race war and it`s only going to get worse in the final weekend with millions of dollars in street money to turn out the vote." What`s that about?

BOOKER: You know, I`ve been hearing this vile kind of things, unfortunately. I saw a little bit of that in my race in New Jersey with those kind of dog whistles being sounded. This one is clearly bad as well. And it`s unfortunate that this is again, indicative of who that candidate is. I talked to Alabamans down there and this is a time and some of the biggest applause lines I got was about the importance of unity. This is not a black issue or a white issue. This is an Alabama issue. And I`m hoping people are going to be immune to that dog whistle. And more importantly, I hope that`s going to be motivating for people who come out and reject that and vote for Doug Jones.

HAYES: Are you and your colleagues in the United States Senate, and I say your colleagues broadly across both parties. Are you prepared to deal with Roy Moore as a colleague?

BOOKER: No. I was surprised at how this weekend I heard from Senate Pages, from pages that served in the time that I -- the short time I`ve been in the Senate, and how horrify they`d were at the thought that Roy Moore would come to the Senate, and they as 16-year-olds would have to deal with somebody like this. I`ve seen the courageous words coming from people like Senator Richard Shelby himself, an Alabama Senator saying I will not vote. He`s already sent his absentee ballot. He has not voted for Roy Moore. So this is an institution where -- and you know this, Chris, as much as the headlines of important issues like DACA or a tax reform, there`s a whole bunch of stuff that actually does get done.

Major spending bills were in scrubs fighting for money like Alabama needs to expand broad band or fighting for money like I saw the urgent needs in Lowndes County for infrastructure dollars, water infrastructure dollars. You need to be a senator like I had that kind of relationship with Senator Shelby where you can get along with people on both sides. This is somebody that can`t get along with Republicans or Democrats. They don`t want him here. And I think that Alabama would make a mistake for their own interests in sending him here simply because he cannot deliver because he is not going to be accepted. This is a guy who is not accepted in malls. People don`t want him in the United States Senate.

HAYES: All right, Senator Cory Booker, just back from Alabama this weekend. Thanks for joining me.

BOOKER: Thank you very much for having me.

HAYES: Just to give you a sense of how nationalized this race has become, joining me now from Birmingham, Alabama is MSNBC Political Analyst and a Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele and at the Roy Moore rally in Midland City, Alabama is Charlie Pierce, Writer at Large for Esquire Magazine. Just to give viewers at home the sense of how nationalize the race has become there. There`s two strategic genius Steve Bannon at the Roy Moore rally and Charles Barkley who unlike Steve Bannon is actually an Alabama native on stage at the Doug Jones rally so there`s a lot of big guns in different ways. Charlie, tell me what it`s like down there. What you`ve sort of picked up from your reporting on the race. What do you -- what are you seeing?

CHARLIE PIERCE, WRITER AT LARGE, ESQUIRE MAGAZINE: Well, we`re having a right (INAUDIBLE) hoot nanny here in Midland City tonight. And we`ve got David Clarke, we`ve got Louie Gohmert, we`ve got Steve Bannon on stage now. And we`ve got --- actually going to get a proof of life on the candidate, Judge Roy Moore, who nobody has seen for six weeks. I tell you one thing, Chris. Nobody knows anything about tomorrow. Any poll numbers are completely worthless. There are so many subterranean dynamics at work in this race that it could -- I mean, I think that Fox poll is science fiction. But no result tomorrow will surprise me.

HAYES: Michael, how did -- I was watching Alex Burns of the New York Times sort of recapping some of the steps that brought the Republican Party to this point which I think it`s fair to say most Republicans at the sort of the upper echelons of the party which it were not at this point. How did it get here?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it got here through manipulation and capitulation. I think in many respects, you had the manipulation by the leadership of the base to the point that the base became so angered that they lashed out. And they latched on to Donald Trump. Donald Trump became their response, their nuclear weapon. Certainly, when I was chairman, you saw elements of that grow out of the -- not the occupy, but the tea party movement where again that frustration was beginning to bubble. What we were able to do was not try to co-opt it or control it, but to actually cooperate with it to sort of understand exactly what was animating folks.

The party never took time to do that. And so Donald Trump put his finger on that pulse, and here we are. The manipulation -- the capitulation, rather, is the leadership has nowhere to go. Their backs are up against the wall and they`re looking at a President who by all rights is not conservative, not a Republican and yet they fell in line and said all right, he is able to help us control this base, to bring this base around to our agenda. And that`s not working out the way they drew it up.

HAYES: Although they are already probably getting a $1.4 trillion tax cut which is part of the reason that everybody is huddling around.

STEELE: Yes, but it`s not a tax cut for the people they say the tax cut was meant for.

HAYES: Well, that`s true.

STEELE: And that`s the truth that`s going to come home to roost.

HAYES: Charlie, I want to play this clip, because you`re at a spot, and there`s this video of a man, a father, who says he is a peanut farmer from 15 miles nearby who is outside. He`s holding a picture of his daughter. And he`s talking about Roy Moore and why he`s there. And I want to play it and get your reaction because it speaks to you Roy Moore -- the Roy Moore of six weeks ago before these allegations surfaced, and all the reasons that people opposed him, even before we found that out. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter myself which I regret. But I can`t take back what happened to my daughter. But stuff like saying, my daughter, is a pervert, sure I`m sure that bothered her. Now you know, Judge Moore not just said my daughter. He didn`t call my daughter by name. He said all gay people are perverts, abominations. That`s not true. We don`t need a person like that representing us in Washington. That`s why I`m here.


HAYES: The man was holding a picture of his daughter who killed herself who was gay. And Charlie, so much of the race, the national attention focused last six weeks on The Washington Post story and the subsequent allegations. How much of the race there is about the Roy Moore that voters in that state have known for decades now?

PIERCE: Well, I think most of the liberal Democratic energy behind the-- behind the Doug Jones campaigns has to do with the embarrassment that Roy Jones has been from the bench. I mean, it`s the rare chief justice who gets fired twice. But the thing is, and this will go along I think with what you were discussing with Michael, without that Washington Post story, if we didn`t know anything about these women, the entire National Republican Party would be behind this guy. There is no doubt in my mind. I mean, they would have preferred Luther Strange but absent this other stuff, you`d have seen -- you`d have seen surrogates down here.

HAYES: Yes, it`s a really good point, Michael, that go back in time seven weeks before the allegations, and this is a guy who, you know, really it`s even before the allegations, it`s a new -- it really is kind of a new low to have this man sitting in the U.S. Senate wearing the Republican Party`s badge.

STEELE: No, it absolutely is. It`s an abomination in many respects and it`s certainly a slap in the face of individuals like Ronald Reagan who, you know, would be sitting there going this is not the party that I belonged to. This is not the party that I led. And the truth of the matter is the leader -- the current leader of the party is aligned with the Roy Moore for reason. There`s a symbiosis there. There`s a connection there. And the party has been drawn into that. And I think it`s absolutely right, Chris, that absent everything else you would have surrogates here you. You would have 10, 17, 20 times the money poured into this race. The Senatorial Committee would have been here because the fight for the seat, again, was more paramount than the substance of the candidate, given all the baggage that Roy Moore brought to the table. I mean, twice rejected from the bench for not following the constitutional responsibilities of his office and yet they walked away from that.

HAYES: I should say rejected by fellow Republicans in both cases. These were not -- these were not like you know, liberal coastal elites who thought Roy Moore was a backwater hick. It was actually the other Republicans sitting on the Supreme Court with him both times.

STEELE: That`s right.

HAYES: Michael Steele and Charlie Pierce, thanks to you both.

STEELE: All right.

HAYES: Next, the White House tonight is dismissing the women who came forward together to tell their stories of sexual harassment at the hands of Donald Trump. That story in two minutes.


HAYES: -- winning the electoral college last year closed the book on a series of sexual assault and harassment allegations. Today was a very rude awakening. Less than a week after three members of Congress resigned for various forms of sexual harassment and unwanted kissing and groping, three of the women who have accused to the President of harassment and assaults spoke out yet again to remind Americans of what they say the President did.


JESSICA LEEDS, DONALD TRUMP`S ACCUSER: All of the sudden he`s all over me, kissing and groping and groping and kissing. And believe me, I -- my memory of it was that nothing was said when his hand started going up my skirt. I`m not a small person. I managed to wiggle out and stand up, grab my purse, and I went to the back of the airplane.


HAYES: Those allegations on the "TODAY" show this morning and in an ensuing press conference got the attention of the White House and the journalists who cover it. Sarah Huckabee Sanders during her briefing today fielded a slew of questions about the President`s double standard on harassment. And she struggled to define why sexual assault victims should be heard, just not these particular ones.


SANDERS: The president said himself he thinks it`s a good thing that women are coming forward, but he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn`t determine the course, and in this case, the President has denied any of these allegations.


HAYES: The women accusing the President said they`re clear about what needs to happen next.


RACHEL CROOKS, DONALD TRUMP`S ACCUSER: I want to believe that as Americans we can put aside our political inclinations and admit that some things, in fact, do transcend politics. I ask that Congress put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump`s history of sexual misconduct.


HAYES: Congresswoman Donna Edwards has said she herself has experienced inappropriate behavior on Capitol Hill. And I want to ask you about this idea of Congress having -- coming off the Franken and then Conyers and then Trent Franks last week, the idea of Congress sort of conducting some kind of investigation or hearings into the allegations against the President, what do you think of that idea?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, I mean, I think it`s very complicated because the ethics process whether it`s the House or the Senate are set up for those particular bodies. It is not a body that`s really set up to investigate a President of the United States or allegations like that. On the other hand, I do think that there is a way that particularly Democrats can illustrate the stories of these women and not necessarily a formal hearing. But I think it`s important for them to be heard. I mean, the President keeps saying I deny, I deny as though that somehow will wipe away these accusers. But these are something like 19 accusers, none of whom really know each other and their allegations are remarkably similar. And so Sarah Huckabee Sanders can`t simply get away by saying, well, the President has denied it.

HAYES: You know, you can tell her -- she was struggling today for that very reason. Another thing that`s happened, so there`s a call for a congressional inquiry and I think you know, your point about the fact that those committees aren`t sort of set up to do that, maybe the government -- House Government Oversight Committee. But there`s also calls for his resignation which I think is -- comes in the wake of calls for resignation of elected members of the Senate and the House in the wake of allegations against them. Here`s Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Take a listen.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Women -- President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible. They are numerous. I`ve heard these women`s testimony and many of them are heartbreaking. And President Trump should resign his position.


HAYES: There`s now four Senators, Democratic Senators calling for him to resign. What do you make of that?

EDWARDS: Well, I mean, I think it`s the beginning of a drumbeat, maybe. But four Democratic Senators calling for the President to resign is not going to be what sends this over the top. But the fact is that it`s really important because if you look at the allegations that took down Franken and Franks and you know, the rest, and Conyers, they`re very similar to the allegations against the President of the United States.

HAYES: I mean, particularly with respect to Al Franken in which there was you know, it was explicitly an employment relationship like it was with Conyers and Trent Franks in which it was two instances I believe or maybe more of unwanted kissing and groping. And those are almost sort of apples for apples similar to what has now been said about Donald Trump.

EDWARDS: Well, and clearly, if those were allegations that were made in the private corporate sector, as we`ve seen across the board over the last several weeks, he would be out on his petard. I mean, that`s really clear. And so, you know, I think it`s really -- I think it`s important for these Democratic Senators to you know, to come out and make their voices heard. And for these women to continue to tell their stories and tell them collectively to remind us that the President of the United States engaged in inappropriate behavior with at least 19 women who have made these allegations in public.

HAYES: Nikki Haley said something interesting over the weekend that caught the President`s attention. I want to play that for you and get your response. Here`s what she had to say on Face The Nation.


NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with and I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.


HAYES: Now the A.P. reporting that Haley`s comment infuriated the President. He`s grown increasingly angry in recent days the accusations against him have resurfaced. For those I think who I think that they feel an impotent about how this has played out, it seems significant to me that the President does not like this being in the news.

EDWARDS: Well, he doesn`t. But the President actually is more responsible for this being in the news because had he not come out in such strong support of Roy Moore, it seems, you know, difficult to assume that the President, those stories about the President would actually be on the table in the kind of way that they are. But he, in fact, put that on the table. And when I listen to Nikki Haley, I can imagine that the President is no more happy with her than he is with his own daughter Ivanka for her statements about Roy Moore.

HAYES: All right, Donna Edwards, thanks for joining me.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, the simple question no one at the White House can seem to answer. When did the President find out that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI? Exclusive new reporting on Trump, Flynn and Robert Mueller ahead.



HALLIE MARIE JACKSON, MSNBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: When did the President know that Mike Flynn lied to the FBI?

SANDERS: As I said earlier, I refer you back to John Dowd`s clarification and I was --

JACKSON: I`m asking for a day. When did he find out? Was it when -- the announcements was made Friday, was it prior to that?

SANDERS: Again, I`m not aware of the specifics but I would refer you to John Dowd for that specific question. I would actually refer you to John Dowd on that specific question since it`s a legal matter. I`m not allowed weigh in to.


HAYES: All right, great question from Hallie Jackson there. When did the President of the United States find out that his National Security Adviser committed a felony by lying to the FBI? It`s a question the White House and the President`s lawyer have refused to answer, a question that`s central to the possible obstruction of justice case against the President. Remember, Flynn, pleaded guilty a week and a half ago to deceiving investigators telling them he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian Ambassador which of course he had. That lie, the lie to which he pleaded guilty took place on January 24th, less than a week into the new Trump administration. Two days later on the 26th, the White House was warned that Flynn`s account to the Vice President had been false, leaving Flynn compromised and vulnerable to possible Russian blackmail. But it wasn`t until 18 days later on February 13th that Flynn was finally forced to resign after news of that deception leaked to the press.

And according to sworn testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, it was the next day after Flynn has been ousted that the President cornered Comey in the Oval Office one-on-one and told him, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. Now, this is the key. If the President knew Flynn committed a crime when he asked Comey not to pursue the investigation against him, well, that looks like a pretty open and shut case for obstruction, which is why his staff flew into damage control mode when the President suggests he did know what Flynn had done, tweeting, "I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI." The White House attributed that tweet pretty implausibly to the President`s outside Attorney John Dowd, the man there on the left, and has since dodged all questions about when the President knew about Flynn`s criminal lie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a noble fact in this building. It`s not a legal matter not for the Attorney to say. Can you just tell us when the President became aware of that?

SANDERS: Well, the attorneys feel differently, and they feel this is a question that should be answered by them. And I`ll encourage them again to respond to you. But I`m going to have to refer you back to John Dowd again.


HAYES: Finally reached for comment, John Dowd, that guy, told NBC News "I am not going to engage on the subject. Flynn was first accused and charged last Friday. No more questions." But it`s not just reporters trying to get to the bottom of this. It turns out Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now laser-focused on what the President knew about Flynn and whether he tried to arrange a cover-up. That exclusive reporting for NBC News right after this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador?

TRUMP: No, I didn`t.


TRUMP: No, I didn`t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...your inauguration.

TRUMP: No, I didn`t. My...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And would you have fired him if the information hadn`t leaked out?

TRUMP: No, I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence. Very simple. Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts, so it certainly would have been OK with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn`t doing it. I didn`t direct him, but I would have directed him because that`s his job.


HAYES: I didn`t direct him, but I would have directed him but I didn`t direct him because I didn`t know he was doing it, but I`m glad he did it.

So, here is the question. Did the president of the United States direct Michael Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador? And when Flynn got caught, did the president instruct him to lie to the FBI? That is the line of inquiry Special Counsel Robert Mueller now appears to be pursuing, according to NBC News, which reports that Mueller is trying piece together exactly what happened inside the White House over the critical 18-day period between January 26th when the White House was first warned that Flynn`s lies made him a security risk, and February 13 when Flynn was finally forced to resign as National Security Adviser.

According to NBC sources, it`s a sign that Mueller is seriously examining, as we`ve learned over and over again, of possible obstruction of justice case against the president of the United States.

For the latest on where the investigation is headed, I`m joined now by Julia Ioffe, staff writer for The Atlantic, and Natasha Bertrand, political correspondent for Business Insider.

Natasha, let me start with you. You wrote this piece about -- Trump officials were warned about Flynn at least six separate times before firing him. And when you lay it all out, it really is striking that they still went ahead and did it.

NATASHA BERTRAND, BUSINESS INSIDER: Right, absolutely. I mean, the White House was warned well in advance that Glynn was not a good choice for national security adviser just between his lobbying work the year before and then his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, which of course Sally Yates warned about on January 26.

I will say that probably one of the most important witnesses, if not the most important witness, for Mueller as he pursues this line of inquiry about these 18 days in between the time Yates warned the White House and the time he was eventually fired will be White House council Don McGahn. I mean, he was really the first point of contact for Yates when she went to the White House and said, look, Flynn is not being completely forthcoming about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, and he could therefore be subject to Russian blackmail.

McGahn has not said whether or not he took up Yates on her offer for him to view the contents of the conversations between Flynn and Kislyak. And my repeated requests for comment about whether he ever did have gone unanswered.

HAYES: You know, Julia, this period that has emerged as a focus I think is in some respects a little surprising because so much focus was on the campaign and so much of what we`re learning now is about that behavior in that crucial window of time in the transition and then the early days of the administration.

Although it makes sense in a certain way. You have a great piece in The Atlantic. Everyone should read about the sort of Russian perspective on this, which is that it`s after the election that what started as maybe mischief or a prank or an attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton suddenly became an avenue to actually get some asks done by the Russian government.

JULIA IOFFE, THE ATLANTIC: Well, it seems like the Russian government, or people affiliated with the Russian government, had been reaching out through 2016 either to the Trump campaign directly or his surrogates. And then Trump won. And it was unexpected for Americans, and it was certainly unexpected for the Russians, who did not expect him to win. Nobody in Russia took him seriously. And then, I mean, the Russians aren`t stupid, right. They got this guy that they were kind of gunning for, but not -- but tongue-in-cheek. He`s been saying all this great stuff about Vladimir Putin and the Russians. Why not ask him for some stuff? Why not ask him to repeal the sanctions. It would be stupid not to.

The question is was the Trump administration, the incoming Trump administration stupid enough to promise to deliver on these things? I think those are two separate pieces.

HAYES: Right.

And Natasha, that`s why the Flynn story to me just resonates so profoundly here is that the thing at the center of it, which is a conversation about Kislyak that he then lies to FBI investigators about that is then -- seems to be kind of attempt to sweep under the rug by the White House, possibly the president obstructing justice, or at least intervening on his behalf. Why lie? Why even lie in the first place? And why everyone sort of gets in line behind that is this question that no one can actually give a good account of.

BERTRAND: Well, there are two explanations for why Flynn might have lied about his communications with Kislyak. The first is fairly benign, basically that it would have just been really bad optics for it to have come out that the first instinct of the Trump administration, the incoming Trump administration, after Obama imposed these sanctions on the Russians for interfering in the election, was to effectively tell the Russians, no, it`s OK, it`s no big deal. We`re going review the sanctions. Don`t worry about it. That would have looked really bad.

The second explanation is something more nefarious, which is that, you know, perhaps Flynn was trying to throw Mueller off the trail or throw then FBI Director James Comey off the trail of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And then you also have to look at the business interest that Flynn brought into the White House with him where he was trying to develop these nuclear power plants across the Middle East. And that would have required that Russian sanctions -- that U.S. sanctions on Russia were undone.

HAYES: Julia, having just done a bunch of reporting in Russia on this story, I wonder, we know that the White House is pretty nervous about this. We know they`re sort of watching this with dread, do you think the Kremlin is watching Mueller with dread as well?

IOFFE: I think so. But, you know, you have to keep in mind that the Russians have been having buyers remorse since around April when Trump fired 59 tomahawk missiles at an empty Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons strike by Bashar al-Assad`s forces.

So they got this guy they didn`t expect to get. He promised them a bunch of stuff. He wasn`t able to deliver. And so if you look at it actually from the American perspective, what Mike Flynn did by promising this stuff to the Russians, or allegedly promising this stuff to the Russians, that these sanctions would essentially be the shortest lived sanctions ever is that he made -- he essentially made the eventual Russian response that much worse.

Because the Russians care a lot about face, about saving face, about not being humiliated and not being made to look weak. So they were given a promise, allegedly, that these sanctions would be undone, and they`d get their two compounds back. By the time they -- and that was December 2016. By the time they learned that they were not going get them back, five or six months had passed, and they had to retaliate really hard. And instead of, you know, expelling tit for tat, 35 diplomats the way the Americans expelled 35 Russian diplomats, they expelled -- or cut the American presence in Russia by 20 times that number, because they had to recover face.

So, in the end, you know, if you talk about whether Flynn was serving America`s national interests you have to look at the consequences of what he did.

HAYES: All right, Julia Ioffe and Natasha Bertrand, great to have you both.

Still to come, the new attempts to discredit Robert Mueller. We`ll look at the tightening loop between Trump TV the Trump White House.

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, during Donald Trump`s campaign speech in Pensacola, Florida on Friday in which he rallied support for an accused child molester, the president also had this aside.


TRUMP: And I must tell you, I can`t believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger bombed so badly on The Apprentice. My poor, beautiful show. It was so successful. We get a big movie star and he can`t pull it off.


HAYES: Well, today Arnold Schwarzenegger, who arrived at a Paris climate change summit via bicycle, had some words for Donald Trump.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, FORMER GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: It doesn`t matter that Donald Trump backed out of the Paris agreement, because the private sector didn`t drop out. The public sector didn`t drop out. The universities didn`t drop out. The scientists didn`t drop out. The engineers didn`t drop out. No one dropped out.

Donald Trump pulled Donald Trump out of the Paris agreement.


HAYES: Schwarzenegger is right: scientists and engineers have not stopped working to combat climate change, in part because the French president is literally hiring American scientists to do that work in France. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: The French President Emmanuel Macron has repeated a clear message to U.S. citizens in the Donald Trump era. American scientists are welcome in France.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Please, come to France. You are welcome. It`s your nation. We want people working on climate change, energy, renewables, and new technologies. To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland.


HAYES: There is always something delightful about entrepreneur pronounced in French, isn`t there?

Macron and Trump had had their share of tension, but that wasn`t just empty trolling for the French president. Today, he took tangible action to bring top American scientists across The Atlantic. Macron awarded climate change grants worth millions of euros to 13 U.S.-based scientists relocating them to Paris for the remainder of Trump`s term, climate grants that Macron calls Make Our Planet Great Again.


MACRON: And I do want to thank you for being here, for your answer to this first call, your decision to move and come to Paris.



HAYES: There is a reason why we call it Trump TV, because the Fox News Channel is working overtime to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller and seems to cross new barriers in how far it is willing to go on that score.

On Saturday, Jeanine Pirro, a former district attorney and one of President Trump`s favorite TV personalities explicitly called for a purge of the FBI and Justice Department.


JANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS: There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and Department of Justice. It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired, but who need to be taken out in handcuffs. Handcuffs for Andrew McCabe, deputy director of the FBI, the man at the hub protecting Hillary and attempting to destroy Trump. Handcuffs, too, for Peter Szyrk, a high ranking FBI agent working under McCabe and Robert Mueller.

In a year with a team dedicated to destroying Donald Trump, he can`t come up with one piece of evidence. It all started when Cardinal Comey destroyed our FBI with political hacks. Well, it`s time to take them out in cuffs.



what she is calling for is the kind of thing you might expect from, say, President Erdogan of Turkey, who we should note President Trump also admires.

Tonight, new reporting about the mind-boggling amount of that kind of talk that the president ingests in his ear holes daily and what it means next.


HAYES: president trump in private is what you might expect, a TV watching, tweet loving embattled president, according to The New York Times, which interviewed 60 friends, advisers and associates and members of congress. Quote, "people close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day and sometimes as much as twice that in front of a television."

The president has pushed back hard on that claim in particular telling reporters quote, "I don`t get to watch much television primarily because of documents. I`m reading documents a lot."

Today he tweeted another false story, this time in the failing New York Times that I watch 48 hours of television a day. Wrong.

Also, I seldom if ever watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider fake news.

But the president`s TV watching habits aren`t the only issue, he doesn`t just watch people like Fox News Jeanine Pirro, he invites them to the White House. In a meeting in early November quoting the Times, "Ms. Pirro whipped up the president against Mr. Mueller and accused James B. Comey, former FBI director, of employing tactics typically reserved for mafia cases, according to a person briefed on the meeting. The president became visibly agitated as she spoke, but later even Mr. Trump eventually tired of Ms. Pirro`s screed and walked out of the room, according to the person."

Sam Seder is an MSNBc contributor, the host of online podcast Majority Report and co-hosts the Ring of Fire radio show. David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida.

And David, I`ll start with you. There is a sort of perfect closed loop that`s developed. I mean, the president, according to that reporting, watches four hours of TV a day. He denies it, although we watch him in real time live tweet Fox and Friends, so we can tell -- we know what he`s watching.

He`s consuming this stuff that in someways is kind of meant for -- you know, it`s hard to know if it`s meant for the president. It`s sort of meant to sort of keep the base manipulated as the mechanism of the most powerful person in the world. But here is the president watching this and then acting in a sort of perfectly closed circle. Is this dangerous?

DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN, FLORIDA: Of course it is. Because, listen, past presidents at least had judgment and discernment when they consume news that was clearly so biased.

And look, it`s obvious what Donald Trump and his sycophants in the media who support him are trying to do right now it`s undermine Bob Mueller`s credibility. You know, in law there`s a saying if the facts are on your side, you argue the facts, if the law is on your side, you argue the law. He can`t argue the facts or the law in this investigation so he has to undermine the credibility of the prosecutor

And he`s setting up a closing argument for his base. He`s selling it right now. And it`s going to be similar whatever you thought of the Clinton administration or the Clinton impeachment, House Democrats had a closing argument and it was this, how dare the scandalous Republican congress deny the American people the president they elected? What Donald Trump and Jeanine and his sycophants are setting up is this argument, that how dare Bob Mueller, with all of his own scandals, try to deny the American people the Donald Trump presidency that they elected.

HAYES: I think that`s true. And it`s also true that Democrats at the time went after Ken Starr fairly hard, although Starr was a far more sort of partisan ideological figure than Mueller is.


HAYES: Much more.

SEDER: But Sam, there is also -- there`s a level here that I find -- I can`t tell how much it`s bluffing or not, but there is a level of just sort of like -- the purge mentality, the idea -- I mean, it does feel a little like something you encounter in a place like Turkey or in other countries where you have these sort of warring factions within the security services that, you know, you`re watching this sort of propaganda -- I mean, infiltrated enemy within.

SEDER: Well, I think it`s organic, I mean to be honest with you. I think there`s -- this is just sort of -- I think these are just the vocabulary that`s going around right now. I mean, I believe Jeanine Pirro probably believes...

HAYES: Believes what she`s saying.

SEDER: And I believe Donald Trump probably believes it, too. And I think they are probably talking to each other and don`t realize that they are talking to each other in some respect and there is -- like you say, a closed loop. There is a parallel narrative that has developed in this country and this has been growing for years, for decades, really. It`s just that we hit some type of inflection point where it was self- sustaining.

I mean, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, the idea was Fox wanted to sort of whitewash this material and get it into the mainstream. Now it just sort of plays in a parallel plain and it is self-sufficient now.

HAYES: Well, but -- I think the tipping point, David, a guy named Alex Perrine (ph), a great writer wrote this piece a while back where he made the argument, the tipping point is that for first time you got a president who consumes the stuff, right? So, you know, talk radio has been there, Fox News has been there. And that stuff has been sort of being pumped into the base for a very long period time, but generally the kinds of people who would become the president of the United States were not like avid Rush Limbaugh listeners or avid Fox and Friends viewers. The difference is you now have a person who is sort of consumer of it as much as he`s, you know, as much as he`s using it for his political objectives.

JOLLY: He is. And, you know, I use the term discernment and judgment earlier on. Understand how hypocritical this has created -- the hypocrisy this has created in Donald Trump, somebody who has wrapped himself in support for law enforcement, wrapped himself, right, he is a champion of law enforcement and yet he is attacking some of the finest law enforcement officers in the nation starting with the top cop on this investigation Bob Mueller. And he doesn`t realize the hypocrisy in it because he`s being affirmed by these voices in the media.

SEDER: Can I just say, too, that this isn`t just a question of suddenly Donald Trump is the one Republican leader who listens to this stuff. 20 years ago, none of the Republican congress people and senators listened to Rush Limbaugh and what not, but as recently as 10 years ago, you had congressmen calling into Rush Limbaugh`s office, Republican congressmen, asking him for forgiveness because he had spoken out of turn against them and so, this is something that...

HAYES: Well, you got...

SEDER: ...a whole continuum.

HAYES: That`s a great point.

SEDER: ...the building block.

HAYES; The whole House Freedom Caucus are essentially consumers of this before you ever got to Donald Trump.

SEDER: Indeed.

And, you know, look Representative -- the Speaker of the House Boehner when it came time to admonish his 10 members of his caucus who were raising whether or not legislation arguing that the president wasn`t an American.

HAYES: President Obama.

SEDER: President Obama -- he said it`s not my job to do this.

HAYES: He knew. He knew who he was going to be crossing or not crossing when it came to that.

SEDER: Indeed. I mean, this is a Republican phenomenon and Donald Trump is the coup de gras.

HAYES: David, do you think that this is -- I mean, ultimately it`s laying the predicate for what happens if Mueller does deliver, say, an indictment or charges of obstruction, how do you predict how they react if and when it happens?

JOLLY: Oh, they are laying the bricks right now for an all-out attack on the credibility of Bob Mueller. And it is going to work with his base.

Listen, the term gaslighting has been talked a lot -- you know, the idea that Donald Trump is able to create this alternate reality and convince people that only his reality is true. And it starts with the foundational principle of lying, of blatant lies, exaggerations, huge lies. That is what he is engaging in right now attacking Bob Mueller. And it is also that when charges come down, should they come down, his final closing argument will be you can`t believe Bob Mueller. He`s not credible.

HAYES: All right. Sam Seder and David Jolly, thank you both.

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


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