Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 18, 2017 Guest: Barbara McQuade, Nick Akerman, Eric Swalwell, Bernie Sanders
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- The Journal are doing the same with the Russia probe. In the end, it will be the quiet men and women who work in the city of Washington who despite the all the brickbats thrown against them will end up protecting this republic. They do so not as participants in a coup, as a Trump ally just argued, but as people doing their jobs. And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s no collusion. There is no collusion whatsoever.
HAYES: The FBI`s warning to candidate Trump about Russia.
TRUMP: Russia, if you`re listening --
HAYES: Why the Trump campaign didn`t report Russia`s advances.
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: The pretext of the meeting was hey, have I have information about your opponent.
HAYES: Plus, a big piece of evidence obtained by the Special Counsel.
TRUMP: Can you imagine what was on those e-mails?
HAYES: Then, the plot to stop Mueller.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: This is a hatchet job, plain and simple.
HAYES: Congressman Eric Swalwell on protecting the investigation, Bernie Sanders on the tax bill and the new tax cuts for specific Republicans.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: What we tried to do is cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Tonight we know that the President of the United States was warned in the summer of 2016 that Russia would try to infiltrate his campaign. And despite multiple confirmed contacts between campaign aides and Russian agents, he never informed the FBI. According to exclusive reporting from MSNBC News, then Candidate Trump received the warning in a briefing from senior counterintelligence officials at the FBI who urged him to alert the bureau about any suspicious overtures of the campaign. We don`t know exactly when that briefing took place, just that it happened after July 19th which is when Trump officially became the Republican nominee and sometime around August 17th when he received his first intelligence briefing. And yet despite being briefed on Russia`s role on the DNC hack, despite being warned that Russia was actively trying to infiltrate his campaign, the President kept on publicly denying Russia did anything wrong.
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TRUMP: I don`t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She`s saying Russia, Russia, Russia but I don`t -- maybe it was. I mean it could be Russia but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?
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HAYES: Ah, yes, the 400-pound bed hacker. A similar briefing on the risk of Russian infiltration was given to Hillary Clinton around the same time but unlike her campaign, Trump`s campaign at that point was already under FBI investigation for its ties to Russia. That probe which we know began in July 2016 according to former FBI Director James Comey. By the time the President sat down with those FBI counterintelligence agents, seven of his campaign aides had been in contact with Russian nationals or Russian agents. One of them, Carter Page, was already being surveilled under a FISA warrant. Three of them including the candidate`s own son had already taken a meeting with Russians at least a month earlier, hoping to obtain, and I quote here, "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary Clinton, part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump."
The man who sent that e-mail to Donald Trump Jr., a British music publicist Rod Goldstone was spotted on Capitol Hill today heading into an interview with the House Intelligence Committee. And the President maintains he was unaware of his aides` Russia contacts, including the Trump Tower meeting but we know he wasn`t totally in the dark. Because remember, in March 2016, he attended a meeting with that guy right there, George Papadopoulos, who of course is now cooperating with the Special Counsel. We know that Papadopoulos talked about using his connections in that meeting to arrange a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin. It`s not clear if then- candidate Trump shared the FBI`s warning December 2016 with any other campaign officials but we do know the Russia contacts didn`t stop there. Remember Jeff Session meeting with the Russian Ambassador in September?
Later that month Don Jr.`s correspondence with WikiLeaks which U.S. intelligence officials regard as a Russian cutout. After the election, when the full extent of the Russian sabotage was becoming clear, the contacts between Russia and Trump world only seem to have accelerated. They included multiple conversations between Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about new U.S. sanctions. Of course, Flynn lied about those conversations to investigators. And after pleading guilty to a felony, Flynn is now cooperating with the Special Counsel. We just learned that Mueller has obtained tens of thousands of e-mails from the Trump transition, which could help piece together what exactly was going on during that key period. Already, the President and his allies attempting to discredit Mueller are claiming those e-mails with their dot gov addresses taken from government servers were somehow improperly obtained.
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TRUMP: It`s not looking good. It`s not looking good. It`s quite sad to see that so my people were very upset about it. I can`t imagine there`s anything on them frankly because as we said, there`s no collusion. There is no collusion whatsoever. But a lot of lawyers thought that was pretty sad.
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HAYES: We already know there is something in those e-mails. According to the New York Times, they include correspondence among top Trump transition advisers, planning Flynn`s outreach to the Russian Ambassador. Julia Ainsley is a National Security and Justice Reporter for NBC News who broke the story today on Trump`s warning from the FBI. First, give us the context for this warning.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER: So it`s important to remember that when someone becomes a major party candidate, it`s pretty much pro forma for them to be given counterintelligence briefings by the FBI and other members of the intelligence community. So we know that this briefing was given to the Clinton campaign as well as the Trump campaign after the two had become the nominees, in part because when you become the nominee, you are privy to intelligence information that can make a target for foreign adversaries. We know that Russia was a specific part of this warning. They know that he was brief and warned.
And what this does it is sort of changes the prism through which we see the Trump campaign`s relations with Russians during this time. Clinton, of course, was someone who had been through briefings like this in the past. And Trump has always said he was somewhat of a political novice, that he didn`t really know all of these rules. They wouldn`t have known not to take some of these meetings. Now that becomes a little harder for him to stand behind when he was given the specific warning.
HAYES: Now, one of the items in your story is that they specifically said, you know, let us know essentially if any of this is happening. You know, you would imagine that that would also apply retroactively, right? So if the President were particularly affirmative, if he did know that this was happening, that maybe he would put two and two together. But we have no evidence as of now that at any point the president, the now president reached back out to the FBI to talk about any of this.
AINSLEY: That`s true, Chris. There have been no public records of and the White House has never said it actually did approach the FBI to report on anything, either before that briefing or afterward. Really, what this does it is kind of gives them a consciousness of guilt. If for example Trump or someone else in that briefing had known than June meeting that you just cited with Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer to get that dirt on Hillary Clinton, they then would have been in a position where they needed to report that to the FBI. And the same goes forward. That would be Trump Jr. -- Donald Trump Jr.`s interaction was WikiLeaks in September. That was just a month after the briefing.
Also that September was Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a Senator meeting with Sergey Kislyak in his office. Those things were not reported. And now that we know that they were given the specific briefing, it definitely places them in sort of a different prism in the way we look at whether or not this was just a campaign that didn`t know any better, when it maybe looks like they did know better and should have reported it.
HAYES: Do we know who other than then Candidate Trump was in that briefing?
AINSLEY: All we know is it would have been a very small circle.
AINSLEY: This is not something where they want to spread it widely. They don`t want to go to a middleman. They go to the candidate himself or herself and just a small number of very senior advisers.
HAYES: All right, NBC`s Julia Ainsley with great some great reporting. Great to have you, thank you.
HAYES: For more on this latest twist on the Russia investigation, let`s bring in former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade and Nick Akerman, former Special Assistant Watergate Prosecutor. Barbara, let me start with you. I mean, it`s always struck me as odd that at no point during the course of this year in which this was a front page top of line story that Russia`s possible responsibility for the DNC hacks, the Podesta hacks, that anyone from the Trump campaign ever picks up the phone or writes e-mail and says, wait a second, what`s going on here. How does this information add to your picture of what they were up to?
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, I think it`s a very significant piece of reporting because, you know, it`s not illegal per se to fail to tell the FBI about these overtures but it`s certainly a threat to our national security and it`s a failure to be vigilant in protecting our national security. But as Julia said, it also is this concept known by prosecutors as consciousness of guilt. Why would you not share this information with the FBI when they specifically asked you to? Well, one reason might be that they had something to hide. And so that is a kind of category of evidence that is very significant to prosecutors.
HAYES: Yes, this is something done -- I want to play what Don Jr. said to Hannity after that Trump Tower meeting. A similar question keeps pop up. I keep imagining in my mind the sort of movie version of this where after the Trump Tower meeting they start reporting publicly that Russia is behind the DNC hacks and wondering even if they had the best of intentions, had no idea they weren`t colluding with Russia, like, what light bulb is going off in Don Jr.`s head at that point, right? Is he is watching this? Here`s what he had to say to Hannity. Take a listen.
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SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: At any point in your mind, did Don Jr. have a siren say OK, they`re talking -- again, guy back to the first e- mail about Russia, Russian government, meeting with this person. You`re going talk on the phone. Did you ever think maybe this might not be --
TRUMP JR.: Listen, I think -- like I said, in retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. Again, this is before the Russia mania. This is before they were building it up in the press. For me, this was opposition research. They had something you know, maybe a concrete evidence to all the stories I`ve been hearing about that were probably underreported for you know, years, not just during the campaign. So I think I wanted to hear it out.
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NICK AKERMAN, FORMER SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: This wasn`t just opposition research. I mean, this was an e-mail that said the government of Russia is backing your father for President, number one.
HAYES: Which let me just say, stop right there. Let`s say he didn`t realize then at some point down the road, it always has bugged me. Like doesn`t someone say wow, that was kind of weird that we took that meeting when they offered us the Russian government`s help.
AKERMAN: Not only offered the Russian government help, but that they were going to give them all these documents and dirt on Hillary Clinton, that they were going to give to it Trump`s secretary. But then they decided better to bring it in person. And these are the same probably the stolen e-mails from the Democratic National Committee that the campaign knew about in April through Papadopoulos.
HAYES: This is your theory. This is the Nick Akerman theory of the case. I have to be clear here.
AKERMAN: It is true but I tell you, this is -- this is all making sense because it`s all coming together this way. I mean, if there`s one surety here is that there was a criminal act breaking into the Democratic National Committee.
HAYES: Yes. And to Podesta`s e-mail.
AKERMAN: That`s right. And the only real question is, was the campaign and conspiracy with the Russians with respect to the ultimate goal to help the Trump campaign?
HAYES: Barbara, I want to ask about this e-mail issue which was a very strange thing. The Trumps` lawyers write an e-mail complaining about how Robert Mueller acquired the transition e-mails, which are government e- mails, how he did it. But they don`t write to it Mueller and they don`t write to it a judge, they write it to Congress. Do they have any case here?
MCQUADE: No, I don`t think so at all. And I think the fact that they wrote it to Congress indicates that they even know they don`t have any case.
MCQUADE: As you said, it`s on a government computer. When you fire up a government computer, it says right at the first part you get a ban or that says warning, this computer is owned by the United States Government, users have no expectation of privacy.
HAYES: That`s pretty clear.
MCQUADE: And Mueller`s spokesman has said we obtained the e-mails either by the consent of the user or through legal process. And there is a number of ways the legal process you can get e-mails. I`ve gotten them in public corruption cases before. You can get them with a search warrant, with a court order, with a subpoena, or because this is a counterintelligence investigation, with a national security letter. So I take Peter Carr, the spokesman at his word when he said they used legal process to get these and I think this argument is nonsense.
HAYES: This line jumped out at me. Mueller issued a statement, which is extremely rare. We basically never hear anything from him, from his office. As far as I can tell and the reporters I know, they`re not even leaking. I mean, that`s a very (INAUDIBLE) but you would dig with at this and it caught my eye. "When we have obtained e-mails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner`s consent or appropriate criminal process." Really got that adjective criminal in there twice in that sense.
AKERMAN: That`s what this is all about. This is a criminal investigation. I mean, if you look at this seven-page letter which is a bunch of (INAUDIBLE). I mean, this is unbelievable. They threw around all these legal terms, this is privilege, that is privilege. But what they don`t acknowledge is there`s no executive privilege because Trump is not --
HAYES: Is not the President yet.
AKERMAN: And there`s no attorney-client privilege because there wouldn`t even explain how attorneys had anything to do with these e-mails.
HAYES: Why are every -- lawyers that I know across the political and ideological spectrum seem to not be particularly enthusiastic about the job that the President`s lawyers are doing. Do you share that assessment?
AKERMAN: I tell you, I wouldn`t hire them to get an ant out of my house. I mean, I really would not rely on them for anything.
HAYES: Is that your assessment as well, Barbara?
MCQUADE: I don`t know about that. I mean, I think the things that they`ve been saying publicly is we encourage cooperation and you know, suggesting an era of confidence that the President and others will be exonerated. I think that strategy is probably sound.
HAYES: Yes, it is in the short-term at least. We`ll see where it ends up in the long-term. Barbara McQuade and Nick Akerman, thanks for being here.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Up next, are House Republicans planning on ending the investigations into Russian meddling? I`ll talk to House Intel Committee Member Eric Swalwell who says doing so would be an abdication of duty. He joins me in just two minutes.
HAYES: -- protecting the Robert Mueller investigation continues, Democrats are warning that the investigation by the House Intelligence Committee appears to be in danger of being shut down by the Republican majority. Congressman Trey Gowdy, a Republican on that Committee told NBC News that it is in the public`s interest to finish this quickly as possible so that they can issue a final report. He accused Democrats of wanting to prolong their work for political reasons. "There is not a single soul with an open mind who is waiting on the House of Representatives Russia investigation to unlock the mysteries of the world for them. There are people who have already made up their minds waiting to see whether or not the previously held conviction will be validated. But I think most people are waiting on Mueller.
As Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Congressman Gowdy presided over one of the longest running special committees in the history of the United States Congress. It was longer than investigations into Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, and the 9/11 attacks. And his committee also followed several other Congressional Committees on Benghazi. Congressman Eric Swalwell of California is a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. One thing did jump out to me about what Gowdy said, which is people are really keyed in on Mueller`s findings ultimately. If that`s the case, why does it matter when your investigation wraps up?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Chris. I`m more optimistic than my colleague, Mr. Gowdy about the role Congress can play and the impact we can have, because first, Mr. Mueller, he`s not charged with making political reforms so that this never happens again. For example, I think one reform that`s going have to be put in place is a law that if you are approached by a foreign national offering information about your political opponent, there should be a duty to report. Right now there`s no duty to report and we saw that there was no report the big Trump family or the Trump campaign. And then also what role does social media play going forward if they see attacks happening on their platforms, or if coordination is occurring with campaigns. So there is a lot we could learn if we were to run a thorough investigation. So I`m more optimistic about what we could do if we actually were curious and wanted to make a difference.
HAYES: You know, your colleague Adam Schiff, who is the Ranking Member on that Committee, has shared his concerns that essentially the fix is in, that the Republican majority is going to wrap this up. He has also become a real lightning rod for criticism, particularly from the President`s allies over at Trump T.V. Take a listen to this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that allies of President Trump are now turning up the heat on Schiff may help explain why today the top Democrat on the House Intel Committee tried to point the finger elsewhere. They`re demanding the Justice Department investigate whether it was Adam Schiff himself or other top Democrats that did the leaking. And they think that`s why Schiff came out today, Laura, and started trying to shift the blame and say the Republicans are trying to shut down this investigation.
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HAYES: Do you think that`s right?
SWALWELL: No. It`s because he`s effective. He has -- he has led us in a quite a unified way on the committee. And, Chris, if you just think back to March, that opening statement that he gave before James Comey testified about just you know, what we believe we knew the Russians had done, how much of that has proved to be true and how much more we`ve learned. We didn`t know about the June 9th e-mails when Mr. Schiff gave that opening statement. We didn`t know that Felix Sater and Michael Cohen were talking about how they could engineer a victory for the President. We didn`t know about all the outreach that WikiLeaks had done with Don Jr. or with Alexander Nix from Cambridge Analytica as was reported by Julian Assange. So we have learned so much and there are so many more witnesses we should hear from if my Republican colleagues want to understand just exactly what happened.
HAYES: Can you solve the mystery for me. What exactly is the role of Devin Nunes? I remain confused on this. Because at one level, he`s recused from the investigation but he sort of popped in there every once in a while to maybe mess around with it a little bit. Like is he recused or isn`t he? Is he calling the shots on this committee or is he not?
SWALWELL: Well, he stated that he`s recused of course, but he still signs the subpoena as they relate to this investigation, which I believe defies, you know, being recused. But you know, this isn`t -- this is an investigation bigger than one person. Our -- at least on our side, we try and just focus on the witnesses. I think when the public transcripts are made available, you will see the deep interest and the thoroughness that our side has put into this in a quite an objective way. And if we were given you know, subpoena power to you know, corroborate or repudiate these stories that are being told us to, I believe we would learn a lot more. So thankfully, Robert Mueller`s investigation will go on because he has access to the records, he has been able to get guilty pleas because he has confronted people who at first wanted to tell lies and then told you know, a different story once they were confronted with outside research and records.
HAYES: Quickly, do you in the minority, the Democratic Party in this Committee have recourse, any recourse the majority just wants to shut this down at some artificial deadline?
SWALWELL: The public sentiment, Chris. The public deeply cares about where this investigation goes and that we protect our freedom to choose. And so, I still hope we pass legislation to have an independent commission harkening back to September 11th. That`s what he did after that and I hope you know, the public sentiment stays with us because this is about our freedom at the polls.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, thankyou.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
HAYES: Still ahead, the President`s response to questions about firing Robert Mueller. Plus, new reporting about who the President sees as a threat to his administration. That story coming up.
HAYES: There is perhaps nothing we take more for granted in our modern life than access to electricity. This weekend an underground fire led to a nearly 11-hour power outage at Atlanta`s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, prompting more than 1,500 flight cancellations, more than 700 delays and countless headaches across the country as the entire flight patterns were disrupted. It was a reminder of how much we depend on power, on having access to power, and how acutely we feel its absence when it`s gone. Now imagine that instead of 11 hours, you had to go without power for three months with no end in sight. And that is the situation for many of the more than 3 million American citizens in Puerto Rico, which still, still has less than 70 percent of its power back a full three months after Hurricane Maria.
At this very moment, as you`re watching this, hundreds of neighborhoods remain in the dark. And this has ramifications for nearly every aspect of people`s life there of course. Portable generators have helped a bit on the margins but the staggering impact of the outage is now coming into stark relief. Today Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello ordered a review of the official death count from the hurricane which currently stands at just 64 people. And the move comes after media outlets compared year to year death rates and found in the case of the New York Times that 1,052 more people than usual had died across the island in the 42 days after Maria struck.
We don`t know exactly how many deaths are a result of the extended widespread lack of power, but its impact is pretty clear. It`s contributed to spread of disease with many lacking access to clean water. It`s meant that hospitals have been severely limited in the care they can provide. It has made the day to day tasks of everyday life in Puerto Rico fraught and exhausting. In October, President Trump boasted about the low death toll number in Puerto Rico saying it was a sign that Maria was not "a real catastrophe."
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between one and 10, how would you create the White House respond so far?
TRUMP: I`d say it was 10. There`s never been anything like that. I`d give ourselves a 10.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering firing Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: No I`m not. No. What else? What, are you surprised?
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HAYES: The question everyone has been asking is whether President Trump will fire the man investigating him, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a move that would almost certainly precipitate a full-blown constitutional crisis and pretty much cause all hell to be break lose in Washington. But the President doesn`t necessarily need to fire Mueller in order to contain him. The President`s allies are working overtime to delegitimize the Special Counsel with Trump T.V. going into overdrive to characterize Mueller and his team as biased, corrupt and even plotting, "a coup in America."
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation into Donald Trump`s campaign has been crooked from the jump. But the scary part is we may now have proof the investigation was weaponized to destroy his Presidency for partisan political purposes and to disenfranchise millions of American voters. Now if that`s true, we have a coup on our hands in America.
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HAYES: He said, if that`s true. And then there`s like a question mark, coup in America? He`s not saying it, he`s just asking a question. At the same time, Trump may move to box Mueller and by far his boss in replacing him with someone more pliable. The man who oversees Mueller is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who has that role because Attorney General Jeff Session had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Now Trump has long cast aspersions on Rosenstein, and now advisers tell The Washington Post that on recent discussions Trump has complained that Rosenstein has showed insufficient accountability on the special counsel`s work. Trump also reportedly also mocked Rosenstein`s recent testimony on Capitol Hill, ranted about Rosenstein, who is a Republican, as, quote, a Democrat, and characterized him as a threat to his presidency.
With me now MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele, former chair of the Republican National Committee and MSNBC Sam Seder, host of the Majority Report.
And Michael, I`ll start with you. There`s you know, it`s not to notice the kind of crescendo building in the president`s favored media outlets about Mueller.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Right.
HAYES: There is one theory that I thought was interesting, and Josh Barro and a bunch of other people said this is that it`s not a move to fire him, it`s a substitute for firing him, it`s an attempt to delegitimize whatever he comes up with.
STEELE: Yep, that`s right.
HAYES: Because they still learned the lesson from firing Comey exploding in their face. Do you buy that?
STEELE: I do. And that is very much a part of the effort here at this stage, because they know the political consequences of firing him, Mueller, is the nuclear option. And they don`t want to do that, so let`s just do sort of a land-based attack here.
STEELE: And we`ll just go after him every day through the various media outlets that toot our particular horn, and we will just create this narrative and keep saying it over and over and over again. And so now we`ve sort of layered on top of that sort of some kind of icing around this idea of coup that Mueller is about a coup -- and keep in mind, folks, this is the same Mueller that just a few years ago Republicans were patting on the back and lauding as a great American, you know, public servant and war hero. And, you know, a straight arrow -- and, you know, someone that we could trust.
STEELE: Just in a matter of a few weeks now, we can`t seem to do that anymore.
STEELE: And he is none of those things.
So, yeah, this is a concerted ongoing effort to delegitimize the special prosecutor.
HAYES: So I thought The Washington Post reporting on Rosenstein was fascinating for exactly this reason, which is that any -- first of all, firing Mueller would have to go through Rosenstein, because he is the person who could fire Mueller. He directly supervises him, a; and b, firing Murller would be the nuclear option. Rosenstein is a more interesting figure. Like, how would you game out what the reaction would be if Rosenstein were fired?
SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: If Rosenstein was fired and then theoretically someone was brought in to replace him?
HAYES: Yeah, exactly.
SEDER: I mean, I think there would be a lot of suspicion as to why Rosenstein was fired.
I think -- let me just go back for a moment. I don`t think they`re mutually exclusive.
HAYES: You`re saying like delegitimize versus firing?
SEDER: Yes. I mean, I think it`s quite possible that what we saw was some -- and I don`t want to overstate the calculation involved here, because I think it`s quite possible that Donald Trump wakes up in the morning and is like I`m going do it today. And then other people say no, don`t do it today. And so it`s quite possible that what we see is some form of a trial balloon. And maybe as soon as there is this pushback like we`ve seen over the past week, it causes people to cause him to calm down.
SEDER: I mean, I don`t think -- incompetence and complete whim cannot be underestimated as a plan here. Broadly speaking, though, the idea is delegitimize him, create this alternate narrative that goes on through the right wing media so that when something comes up, if something comes up, it is already DOA in their minds.
We should also note that the president -- there is some idea when you think the Trump TV is doing the president`s bidding. But the sort of flow of information goes the other way too, like he is just watching it all the time. And they`re planting ideas in his head. And this is why I think the Rosenstein piece of this is significant, Michael. Because Mueller has allies on Capitol Hill. He has got an outsized reputation for all the reasons you note. He served in all these different administrations. He`s is the one running the special investigation.
Rosenstein is a fairly anonymous figure. He has already somewhat compromised by the role he played in the Comey firing, which has him -- earned him a lot of skepticism among Democrats. He clearly has some skepticism among Republicans. I worry about him not having a necessary political base to be protected should the president move against him first. And I wonder what you think Republicans would do.
STEELE: Well, I think that`s very good question. But I also say that he has a little bit more juice among some base members, meaning the Senate and the House Republicans, than you would think. I mean, he, again, is not someone who is a gadfly, a sort of we don`t know who he is. He was also lauded and hailed in his appointments to Justice and even being elevated here. He was considered as someone who was a safe bet despite all the other politics around Sessions.
STEELE: But here is the other thing that I find very interesting about this whole idea that the president wants to fire Mueller. For what? Because here is -- here is the reality, you`ve got at least four people now, two of whom have actually plead guilty.
STEELE: To, you know, to crimes. So clearly this investigation is not a whole lot of noise about nothing, there is a something here. And so this idea whether it`s Mueller or Rosenstein, either one of them going away does not solve your underlying problem.
SEDER: Well, I mean, I think -- I happened to catch a little bit of Rush Limbaugh today. And as far as Rush Limbaugh was concerned, it`s like 50 percent of the country already thinks that Mueller is just completely crooked and this is going nowhere and this is a joke. And that he shouldn`t -- it`s almost as if they shouldn`t even fire Mueller because what he is doing is such a joke anyways, it`s not going to make a difference.
And I think that is sort of where they`re mutating into.
But if they fire Rosenstein, they`re going to have to go down. They`re going have to find some U.S. attorney who is out there in the country who is going to be brought in. And there is going to be -- you know, they`re going to have to get very lucky that they get the right one the first time or there is just going to be this trail of people.
HAYES: See, that`s the problem.
SEDER: Who will be brought in. Will you fire Mueller? No. And then to the next person.
HAYES: Slow motion. And I think you have people whispering in the president`s ear, remember what happened when you fired Comey. Remember what happened, remember what happened.
Michael Steele and Sam Seder, thank you both.
Still to come, a new provision in the tax bill that could mean cash back in the pocket of the president and members of Congress, including Senator Bob Corker, who just went from a no vote to a yes. I`ll talk to the reporter who broke that story, ahead.
Plus, the truth is out there. Specifically, it`s in tonight`s Thing 1, Thing 2, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: Thing 1 tonight, the U.S. military has been investigating UFOs, unidentified flying objects, and weirdly, no one seems to be too worked up about it. The remarkable admission by the Pentagon came as a result of reporting by The New York Times, pretty august publication, which published a story of the mysterious UFO program over the weekend.
In response to questions from The Times, Pentagon officials this month acknowledged the existence of the program, insisting that the effort had ended after five years back in 2012. But the former head of the program, Luis Elizondo, told The Times the UFO program never shut down, and a successor was appointed after he resigned in October.
So what did they find? Quote, the program collected video and audio recordings of reported UFO incidents, including footage from a navy F-A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speeds and rotating as it moves. The navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they`re seeing. There is a whole fleet of them, one exclaims.
So, if you think it`s nuts that we held the news of an official UFO investigation all the way to Thing 1, you`re going to love that we have the official video of a UFO in Thing 2 in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: So no big deal, but the Pentagon has confirmed the existence of the advanced aerospace threat identification program, a $22 million initiative that studied UFOs for at least five years beginning in 2007, and they released video, including a 2004 encounter when two fighter jets chased an oval-shaped white object near San Diego. They also released a second video with cockpit audio as pilots describe what they`re seeing.
The Pentagon declined to give a date or location.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a whole fleet of them. Look on the ASA. Oh my gosh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re going against the wind. The wind is 120 knots to the west. Look at that thing, dude. That`s not an SOS, is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s rotating.
HAYES: Last week Senator Bob Corker flipped to a yes vote on the Republican tax bill, puzzling a lot of people because he was the only Republican senator to vote no the first time around citing concerns about the deficit. The bill that ultimately came back out of conference did nothing to allay those concerns, and yet still, there he was, he switched to a yes.
Now over the weekend The International Business Times dug up a provision in the bill that would seem to have a direct bearing on Corker`s own finances. Quote, Republican congressional leaders and real estate moguls could be personally enriched by a real estate-related provision GOP lawmakers slipped into the final tax bill. That inserted tax provision could help investors with large real estate holdings much like Corker himself. And so the phrase Corker kickback entered the lexicon. You may have seen it trending on Twitter.
But we should say Republicans pushed back very hard on this. Senator Orrin Hatch, the head of the Senate`s tax running committee, wrote in a letter today the provision had already been in the house bill and that Corker had not pushed for it. Corker himself said he didn`t know about the provision because he didn`t even read the bill.
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BOB CORKER, SENATOR: Obviously, I didn`t finish reading the bill until this weekend. It`s a 503-page bill and obviously was never aware of it. Certainly it had nothing to do with me deciding on wanting to vote for the bill, and when I don`t even know the provision existed.
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HAYES: Well, the process that led to Corker`s flip is still a bit unclear. What isn`t in dispute is that the GOP tax bill will benefit directly and handsomely many of the same people voting on it.
David Sirota, the IBT Times senior editor for investigation, the one who first spotted the tax break in the final bill. David, my understanding is this was not in either the house or the Senate, but it was some kind of version blending of two ideas that had been in both the bills.
DAVID SIROTA, IBT TIMES: That`s right. The house bill included a broad sweeping tax cut for the so-called pass-through entities. And the Senate had restrictions on the kinds of tax cuts that could go to these entities, basically trying to target the tax cuts to LLCs that actually hire people and create jobs. The conference committee goes in, Corker hasn`t voted against the Senate bill that included the restrictions, against the bill that would include restrictions to basically prevent enriching the kind of LLCs he owns.
They go into conference. They come out of conference. And what do you know, a provision that wasn`t in either of the bills basically looks like there is restrictions on the kinds of tax cuts that go to these LLCs, but there is one special provision inserted in there which tax experts say are designed specifically primarily for LLCs that have depreciatable property. That`s like buildings and real estate. And LLCs that don`t have workers.
So it`s a provision as tax experts say for basically people who put their real estate holdings in LLCs, namely, a good example Bob Corker, but not only Bob Corker. We have a new report up at IBT tonight, IBTimes.com, which shows all 14 U.S. Senators on the Republican side who have these kinds of LLC shell holdings.
HAYES: One of the things you`re reporting over the course of this has really illustrated for me is that just in general, Senators and members of Congress have weird finances. They don`t have finances that look like the rest of America`s because, a, they`re almost all wealthy enough that they were able to run in the first place. And b, that wealth doesn`t come from mostly their wage income. We know what they make every year from their salary. It`s a good amount, but it doesn`t make them super rich.
So you have all these weird provisions that are knocking around this tax bill that do seem to directly benefit a lot of people in Congress in ways they don`t your average wage earner.
SIROTA: That`s absolutely, absolutely true. Look at Corker. This is a person who his federal financial filings show he made up to $7 million in outside passive income last year alone. So that`s the kind of tax cut that we were talking about that would benefit him. John Cornyn slipped a midnight amendment into the bill that benefits people who invest in master limited partnerships, a somewhat obscure kind of investment in the oil and gas pipeline sector. Guess what? A number of congressional lawmakers on the Republican side own those, people like Ted Cruz. They would be enriched by the provision that Cornyn slipped into the bill.
So you`re absolutely right. A lot of these different provisions would absolutely enrich the very members of Congress who are voting on them.
HAYES: I think this is a part of this tax bill is going to come back to haunt a lot of members who voted for this when all is said and done in 2018. David Sirota has been doing great reporting on this. Thanks for joining me.
SIROTA: Thank you.
HAYES: After the break, Senator Bernie Sanders on whether he thinks there`s still a chance to stop the GOP tax bill. Stick around.
HAYES: Republicans look close to passing the tax overhaul this week after two more senators say they will vote yes. Senator Mike Lee of Utah tweeted today quote, I will proudly vote for it, and Susan Collins of Maine said she will vote yes, as well.
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SUSAN COLLINS, SENATOR: I will cast my vote in support of the conference agreement on the tax cuts and jobs set. While it is by no means perfect, unbalanced this reform bill will provide much-needed tax relief.
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Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont calls the tax bill a gift to wealthy Republican donors and joins me now. Senator, there is one thing that`s clear, the messaging against the bill has been very effective. Monomoth has reported 26%, basically unheard of for what is being sold as a tax cut bill.
But here is an interesting polling I want you to respond to, half of people, 50% of people think their taxes will rise under this bill, and that`s true in the out years in 2027, but next year the majority of filers are going to see a tax cut, maybe small but a tax cut. Do Democrats run the risk of people getting to next year and saying oh, it wasn`t as bad as they told us?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VERMONT: No, I don`t think so. There is a new report by the tax policy center, Chris, that says by the end of ten years, 83% of the tax benefits go to the top 1%, 60% go to the top one-tenth of 1%.
Everybody would like to get a few hundred dollars in tax breaks and by the way, next year there will be millions of people that will see an increase in taxes. But your point is here, there are a lot of people who will see a tax break, but people aren`t stupid. They understand when the deficit goes up by 1.4 trillion, when the lion share of the benefits go to the people that need it the least, no, they won`t be sympathetic to this very disastrous and unfair tax plan.
HAYES: You know, it occurred to me as I was going through a lot of provisions, we talked about some of the provisions that Bob Corker might be implicated in in terms of real estate holdings, and the president, your callings in the Senate aren`t typical filers. Most of people you`re in the Senate with have a lot of money, wealth and income from non-waged sources, not just the paycheck they get in the Senate.
Do you think that ultimately affects the way a tax bill like this is written and passed?
SANDERS: You want the short answer to that question?
SANDERS: It is yes. Look, I just saw a list a few minutes ago of members of Congress who have, who are in the real estate business and many of them have real estate LCCs and they are going to benefit very substantially from this legislation.
But of course, it`s not just that. So to answer your question, I think what we have seen in the last couple of months culminating this week is incredible greed on the part of multinational corporations that will get huge tax reductions and on the part of many wealthy people including members of the Congress who have written legislation, which will benefit them personally.
HAYES: Is there any way to stop this train at this point?
SANDERS: Very difficult. I mean, they got 52 votes. We have 48 votes. I don`t think there is anybody in the Democratic caucus who will be voting for this piece of legislation but I think at the end of the day, the Republicans will pay a very, very heavy price for having passed this. Not only is this enormously unpopular, but with a $1.4 trillion deficit, there is no question in my mind because this is what was in the budget they already passed. No question in my mind. They will come back and ask for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other programs of vital importance to the middle class.
HAYES: I want to ask you about one aspect that has not got as much attention as it should, which is the individual mandate repeal. I remember when the constitutionality of the individual mandate went up to the Supreme Court and all that was at issue was the individual mandate. It wasn`t Obamacare or medicaid expansion it was just the individual mandate. That was the lead top story in the country, and when it was found to be constitutional, it was Obamacare is saved. Now you have among other things, the individual mandate being repealed in front of everyone. What does that mean? What are the stakes of that part of this tax bill?
SANDERS: Well, what it means, Chris, getting to the question you first asked me how people will respond to this bill, one of the ways they will be responding is if -- is they will be finding in many cases that their premiums are going to significantly increase.
Now, I happen to believe, as you know, the United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and do Medicare for all guaranteeing healthcare to everybody. The individual mandate, though, said that if you are young and healthy, you have to be part of the overall pool. If 13 million people drop out of that pool, there is no question that the pool will be older and sicker, premiums will go up. People will not be happy about that.
HAYES: One of the promises, also, in the beginning was this would simplify the tax code. There is lots of props with the postcard-sized, you know, tax filing and they did double standard deductions to make things easier for folks but have they made good on that promise?
SANDERS: Not that I understand. As I understand it, this bill is going to add a lot of complicated provisions. I think the tax preparers of America are probably feeling pretty good or they are going to be making a lot of money. So, no, I do not think this bill ends the complexity of the current system.
HAYES: Do you have a real estate LLC, Senator? Have you looked over or e- mailed with your accountant on how this will hit you, Bernie Sanders?
SANDERS: No, I do not have a real estate LLC.
HAYES: Well, you`re one of the unlucky ones. Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for your time.
SANDERS: Thank you.
HAYES: Before we go a reminder, there is now an All In with Chris Hayes podcast, something that might come in handy if you have some traveling to do coming up. You can listen to our entire show for free wherever you get your podcast.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now.
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