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Much of Puerto Rico spends Christmas in the dark Transcript 12/26/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Frank Figliuzzi, Betsy Woodruff, Naveed Jamali, David Cay Johnston, Mattathias Schwartz

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 26, 2017 Guest: Frank Figliuzzi, Betsy Woodruff, Naveed Jamali, David Cay Johnston, Mattathias Schwartz

STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS: That is HARDBALL for now. Thank you for being with us and "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The President of the United States proclaimed he was getting back to work today, then he did, attacking the FBI and Robert Mueller`s probe as one of his congressional allies came on this network and called for a "purge of the FBI and the Department of Justice." The latest on the President`s undermining of the Mueller investigation in just a moment. Also tonight, in the wake of the Trump tax cuts, David Cay Johnston on the President`s alleged declaration to his golf club patrons that you all just got a lot richer. Plus, the latest grim details from the American disaster in Puerto Rico, where much of the island spent the holiday without power. And the New Yorker`s Masha Gessen is here to share her thoughts on America`s relations with Russia and the state of the country one year into the Trump Presidency.

Our lead story tonight, the plot to stop Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s Russia investigation did not take a break for Christmas. The President spent the long holiday weekend at his Florida club golfing and live tweeting Trump T.V., as he often does, and actually to be more accurate, tweeting on apparent DVR delay. Today, he started off this morning parroting the latest conspiracy theory being used to discredit the federal investigation somehow linking it to the Steele dossier and then back to the Clinton campaign. "Wow, Fox And Friends, dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded dossier, FBI cannot after all of this time verify claims on dossier of Russia collusion. FBI tainted." Each of those claims is either false or distorted. The President appears to have been quoting former Congressman and current Trump T.V. Contributor, Jason Chaffetz.


The dossier we have long known is bogus. The question is, how was it funded and that question has not been answered yet. And the second part is, did they use it to go to a court and get that court then to allow them to spy on Americans? And if that happened, you have gone well, way, way, way beyond anything of reason and somebody, somebody should be prosecuted for that.


HAYES: It`s true, we still don`t know how precisely that dossier came to be, but though some of it remains publicly unverified, the dossier is far from bogus. Much of it has already turned out to be accurate, including its account in real time of Russia cyber operations during the election. Beyond that, considered the central claim by Chaffetz and others that the FBI was using the dossier in coordination with Democrats to surveil and tarnish the Trump campaign. Had that been the case, a question, why did the FBI keep its Trump investigation completely thoroughly and totally under wraps until long after the election was over? Why were the only leaks the from the bureau during the campaign all directed at Trump`s opponent, Hillary Clinton?

Those claims, about the dossier, are part of an ongoing push by the President`s allies not just to discredit the Mueller investigation, but to effectively incite an ideological purge of federal law enforcement, expelling anyone viewed as disloyal to Donald J. Trump. Their latest villain is Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, civil servant, whose wife is an active Democrat. McCabe is reportedly set to retire in a year. The President of the United States spent a chunk of his Christmas weekend tweeting misinformation about McCabe who would be a likely witness in an obstruction of justice case against the President.

According to CNN, in closed-door testimony last week, McCabe told lawmakers that fired FBI Director James Comey informed him of those conversations he had with the President soon after they happened. Comey has testified under oath. The President, after taking office, asked for Comey`s loyalty and later pressed him to let go of the probe of now-indicted National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. This campaign against federal law enforcement isn`t just coming from Trump T.V. and the President`s Twitter feed, among Republican Lawmakers, at least those who are saying anything in public, there now appears to be a somewhat remarkable growing consensus that the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is essentially some kind of liberal fifth column inside the federal government.


REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FLORIDA: I`m very concerned that the DOJ and the FBI, whether you want to call it deep state or what, are kind of off the rails.

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There are those who look at comments like the ones that you`re making and say Republicans are working to essentially try to discredit the Department of Justice, and thus discredit the Russia investigations. Is that not what you`re doing?

ROONEY: No, I don`t want to discredit them, I just -- I would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it and say, look, we`ve got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here. Those are the people that I want the American people to see and know that good work is being done not these people who are kind of the deep state.


HAYES: Frank Figliuzzi knows a thing or two about the inner workings of the FBI. He was the Bureau`s Assistant Director for Counterintelligence serving under then-Director Robert Mueller. What is your response to a sitting United States Republican Congressman using the word "purge," calling for there to be a purge of the FBI?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE, FBI: Well, and he said that in the same breath where he said he doesn`t want to discredit the agency but he would like it purged. So my question back to him would be, where would that purge end? Would he like the FBI to be 50 percent Republicans and 50 percent, Democrats? Would he like to just completely politicize the FBI and ask for a show of hands as to whose party affiliation is which party? That`s not what the FBI is supposed to be. It`s supposed to be apolitical. And when have some people who have showed bias, they`ve been removed from the inquiry and they`re moving forward. So it`s pretty disturbing and part of a larger defense, apparently, to defend the President.

HAYES: Have you ever seen -- I want to play you another Congressman talking about Andrew McCabe. One of the things that I find interesting and noteworthy here is the kind of personalized attacks against people in the federal bureaucracy. These are not -- these are not sort of political appointees. These -- Andrew McCabe`s a lifelong civil servant. I have never seen anything quite like this. I want to play you Louie Gohmert and get your reaction if you have. Take a listen.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: He can`t go fast enough. Anybody that has that much disrespect for the Republican Party, for the President of the United States, this goes way beyond just having a political opinion like everybody does. So, Mueller, I have said since day one, since he was appointed, he`s bad news. He`s out for a scalp. He would love to get Trump scalped. He would love to be the hero of the left and take out Donald Trump.


HAYES: What do you make of that?

FIGLIUZZI: Well, I`m laughing at Mueller being the hero of the left. He`s a Republican who was appointed Special Counsel by a Republican, who was investigating a Republican. I don`t understand where the scalp-hunting is coming from. With regard to going after a lifelong public servant in the Deputy Director, Andy McCabe, who is, as you`re saying, a 21-year veteran FBI agent, who worked his way up from the streets to the Deputy Director`s office. Look, the sins of Andy McCabe are this.

He had a wife who had the audacity to run as a Democrat in the state of Virginia. He used -- he was appointed by Jim Comey and worked for Jim Comey. And then as you pointed out, he recently corroborated Jim Comey`s statement on the Hill that Jim Comey was asked to be loyal to the President, by the President Trump. Those are really Andy McCabe`s so- called sins. This is a public servant who is going to retire anyway next year because he`s becoming eligible to do so, and that needs to happen and it`s the right thing for the bureau.

HAYES: You know, it seems to me -- I mean, obviously I don`t want to create the impression that it`s off-limits to criticize the FBI. In fact, decades and decades of criticism of the FBI, which has often earned that criticism, I must note. It seems to me that the criticisms here aren`t actually the actions so much as just the notion of the possibility of impartiality, right? So the idea is that anyone who sort of has any kind of political ideological affinity, married to a woman who`s a Democrat, like that, itself, is the discrediting infraction, as opposed to pointing to some actual actions that were taken.

FIGLIUZZI: Well, I think what`s happening here is that you`re seeing the President actually cede, in legal circumstances, called seeding the jury pool, right? In a state or local trial, you would actually ask for a gag order, because it`s ruining the jury pool. He`s doing this on a national level now with regard to a Special Counsel investigation. He`s attacking you know, a single individual, and tainting any conclusion because he`s fearful of the conclusion.

HAYES: We`ve also seen the General Counsel, Jim Baker, these are people formerly basically anonymous who as the General Counsel to the FBI be removed by Christopher Wray who is the political appointee. He now too is coming under fire. What do you make of that?

FIGLIUZZI: Again, we`re seeing a concerted strategy. But I`ve got to tell you this too. It`s very normal for a -- when a new FBI Director coming in to actually shuffle the deck and bring new people in. So what the public needs to be aware of is that`s likely to happen in even greater numbers soon. But you`ll see the President kind of claim that it`s his doing and it`s because there`s a purge occurring when actually, there should have been quite a greater movement already with the new Director Wray coming on.

HAYES: That`s a great point. Frank Figliuzzi, great to have you. For more on the winding plot to stop the Russia investigation, I`m joined by Betsy Woodruff, Politics Reporter for the Daily Beast and Naveed Jamali, former Double Agent who infiltrated Russian intelligence for the FBI. Betsy, what`s remarkable about this sort of bizarre-o-world we`ve entered into is the Republican Party, which has done so much rhetorically to bend over backward, to put itself on the side of law enforcement, no matter what law enforcement has done. We have Blue Lives Matter, we support cops, we support law enforcement, even in the wake of what seems like pretty obvious and serious law enforcement misconduct at the local level, is now running a kind of end mass campaign against federal law enforcement, right in front of the nation`s eyes.

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: It`s really astonishing. And the timing of the President`s tweets at the FBI are uniquely astounding. The reason is that just a few days before Christmas, the FBI announced and the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, chimed in, supporting and amplifying this announcement that the Fbi had arrested a man who allegedly sympathized with ISIS and was planning a Christmas Day terrorism attack in San Francisco. That was a huge announcement. It generated national news. It was the banner on the drudge report. But President Trump was completely silent about this, completely silent about the fact that his top law enforcement agency, that those guys did their jobs.

HAYES: Great point. That is a great point.

WOODRUFF: That they potentially stopped a slaughter. It`s was maybe the only time I can think of when there`s been major terrorism-related news and the President has been silent. And instead of saying, look at the great job our boys are doing, rah, rah, rah, let`s go get ISIS, instead of that, the President is tweeting about Jim Baker and Andy McCabe and the dossier and the Clinton e-mail investigation. It`s really extraordinary the lengths to which Republicans in this administration have gone to sort of cover their eyes and plug their ears when FBI agents do their jobs and actually make us safer.

HAYES: Naveed, having worked at the FBI, what do you think -- let`s take a step back and think of what is being essentially sold right now by the President and his allies, which is that the FBI amounts to essentially a kind of like subversive left sympathetic fifth column. Like, how does that square with your experience in the bureau?

NAVEED JAMALI, FORMER DOUBLE AGENT: It`s crazy. I mean, it`s just -- look, it`s almost the equivalent of being a public defender. You don`t have to believe in your client. You can still give them you know, a good defense. I mean, this is the same thing. And I`ve got to tell you, talking to line agents, not like Frank, who was a -- you know, at the top of the rung here, but line agents who are actually doing this stuff. It`s very much what Betsy is saying is that they look at this and say, I had a friend who`s still a counterintelligence officer say to me, "Man, I`m really glad when the call came to join the Mueller probe that I said no, because look where I would be." I mean, they`re watching their bosses being dragged through the mud. At the end of the day --

HAYES: Wait a second, that`s an interesting -- that`s an interesting detail. I want to focus on that beause that is -- that suggests -- I mean, Frank`s point was a little bit that he`s -- this is rooster you know, taking credit for the sun coming up, right, that this stuff was going to happen and the President is trying to take credit for it. But what I hear from you there is actually there is some kind of effect. People understand that if you join the probe, all of a sudden your face, anonymous line agent, might be on the -- running on Trump T.V. all day.

JAMALI: That`s right. And look, it`s not just the people who are there now, right? McCabe is retiring. He`s had a 20-plus-year career. We have to keep recruiting young people. And there needs to be a constant pool of people willing to stand up and take on this job. And if they look at this and they sort of see the you know, the high-level people being sullied, having their careers ended for doing their job, I think it`s going to have a chilling effect. And the only people who are winning, Chris, honestly it`s Vladimir Putin. The only ones that are benefiting from having a department, having the FBI and counterintelligence in disarray are adversaries. There`s no one else.

HAYES: Betsy, as to the point of doing the job that Naveed just mentioned, you have a new piece that I`m just looking out right now, just published. And the headline of it which is intriguing is Robert Mueller may indict Paul Manafort again. What`s that about?

WOODRUFF: Having had conversations with numerous former Justice Department Officials and legal experts over the last few days, one thing that I keep hearing when I ask folks, what`s the most obvious thing they expect to happen next year is folks expect for Mueller to hand down what`s called a super ceding indictment. It`s when a prosecutor like Bob Mueller essentially says, here`s a new indictment that includes everything from the previous one, but also tacks on some additional charges, additional detail, additional problems for the person who`s being charged.

In this case, the reason so many folks, including a former tax division prosecutor at May and justice, a high-level white collar criminal defense attorney, a former IRS criminal investigator, the reason all these folks are telling me this is because in the initial Manafort indictment, there was a lot of detail that didn`t actually amplify or support the specific charges particularly on tax questions. There was a lot of detail about dicey financial dealings that Manafort and Rick Gates were involved in, about questionable absences of financial information on tax forms, that indicates Mueller might have enough evidence to bring additional charges against Manafort. That could put more pressure not just on Manafort, but also on Rick Gates, who my sources believe has the biggest potential to be additional cooperating witness to Mueller.

HAYES: Naveed, if that -- if things do escalate, and I think everyone is sort of white knuckling right now about what`s happening in 2018, frankly. Because it feels like we`re on a path that`s scary in certain ways. Do you think the department and the FBI are prepared for what that might look like?

JAMALI: That`s a -- that`s really the $64,000 question. I think the answer is yes. I think that when people over the last few weeks, we`ve heard Mueller might get fired, right? I think it`s important to understand that the investigation, while Mueller is leaving it -- leading it rather, the investigation is bigger than one woman or one man. And I think that no matter what happens, no matter who leads the investigation, who comes and goes, who retires and who stays, I think the investigation will go forward. There will be a culminating point. There will be something that this leads towards, whether that`s criminal indictment, whether it`s criminal prosecutions, I think the smart money is to say, yes, although we don`t have the specifics. But it is going to end. It`s going to go somewhere. And I think that that`s going to be the interesting test for our democracy.

HAYES: We should note, in the past, it was -- it was an FBI agent named Mark Felt who was enraged by the President`s treatment of the bureau that brought down Richard Nixon as deep throat. Betsy Woodruff and Naveed Jamali, thanks for your time tonight.

WOODRUFF: Sure thing.

HAYES: Still ahead, Marsha Gessen on the first year of Trump and the fears of authoritarianism. But first, the transparent corruption on display at Mar-a-Lago, free with membership, easy access to a President reportedly boasting about cutting taxes for the rich. That story coming up in just two minutes.


HAYES: -- week after the 2016 election, President-Elect Trump made a promise. He survived the clientele of Manhattan`s Uber upscale 21 Club who cheered his victory. And what did Trump promise the folks ding on $36 burgers and $75 plates of fish?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. We`ll get your taxes down, don`t worry.


HAYES: We`ll get your taxes down, don`t worry. A year later, President Trump adamantly denied he was jamming through a tax cut for the rich, a handout for the 21 Club crowd.


TRUMP: The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan. I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are, pretty much where they are.

This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing. Believe me. I have some very wealthy friends. Not so happy with me, but that`s OK.


HAYES: But here`s the thing. The President fully understands what he and Republicans just did. While Trump claimed his wealthy friends were not so happy with him over the tax bill, he celebrated with his wealthy friends, those who pay $200,000 to join his club. Two anonymous sources told CBS News that just hours after signing the tax bill into law, President Trump kicked off his holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago Friday night at a dinner where he told friends, you all just got a lot richer. Joining me now, Pulitzer Prize Winning Investigative Journalist, David Cay Johnston, author of the new book coming out next month, It`s Even Worse Than You Think: What The Trump Administration Is Doing To America. If indeed he said this, and this is CBS` reporting and not our own, they do have two sources who were in the room. If indeed it`s accurate, you`ve got to say that the President is being honest in this instance.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Yes, I would agree about that. Even if he didn`t say it, though, Trump has repeatedly asserted, you know, that he will pay more which is absolutely impossible under this bill, with one exception. If Donald has been benefiting from an illegal tax shelter of some kind, that this bill somehow undoes, and I grant though the bill and I can`t find such a thing, then it`s possible instead of paying nothing or getting refunds that he might have to pay some tax but over time, his tax will fall by about -- by essentially half.

HAYES: And that`s true. I mean, the kinds of people that could spend $200,000 to join Mar-a-Lago and then pay the annual dues, living in Florida, have some residency in Florida, those are folks who are going to see -- I mean, that is the folks that are going to benefit wildly from this tax bill.

JOHNSTON: Absolutely. And it would be actually, I think, productive, except Congress doesn`t allow it, to do audits on all of those people who own 100-foot, 200-foot-long yachts that are right around the corner from Mar-a-Lago, because it`s hard to imagine anybody using after-tax dollars on something like that.

HAYES: There`s news today from AT&T, one of the things that happened after this tax cut. It was a bizarre, bizarre spectacle, I have to say, really strange. A bunch of corporations got together to announce that they were increasing capital investment or giving their workers bonuses. At&T was one of them. And then also announces much more quietly that they`re going to lay off thousands of people just in time for Christmas, which cuts against a little bit that the idea that they`re so flush, that now everyone`s going to get a raised.

JOHNSTON: Well, the fundamental idea to understand is that taxes are a minor part of large corporations` business. If anything, you know, many multi-nationals turn a profit, as I`ve shown in the past off this system. And the companies that are paying thousand dollar bonuses, apparently you`re going to be at one, if I understand it, Chris --

HAYES: Take it personally, but we should say that Comcast announced there would be some, yes.

JOHNSTON: OK. All right, they get a deduction of 35 cents on the dollar for that. This year, if they waited until January to pay the bonuses, they`d only get 21 cents on the dollar. So paying bonuses early was a smart tax move.

HAYES: I have not even thought of that but the fact of the matter is that of course, it`s right. The value, the marginal value of the dollar is higher now than it will be next year, so if you`re going to pay it, you might as well do it this year.

JOHNSTON: Exactly.

HAYES: FINAL question here, is there some -- what do you think of just the general Mar-a-Lago situation. Matt Yglesias said this this tweet today and I thought it was pretty smart. He says, "While the President is in residence at his private Florida beach club, wealthy individuals who want favors from the government can pay him cash bribes in the form of membership fees and then lobby him personally. That`s like, when you put it like that, it`s a good point.

JOHNSTON: Well, I think that`s exactly what`s going on at Mar-a-Lago. After his election, he doubled the fee to join from $100,000 to $200,000. We`re spending a fortune as taxpayers for Federal Secret Service Agents, federal officials, state and local police whose costs you`re not longer going to be able to deduct beyond $10,000 a year, to rent space from the Trump organization. Interesting, you know, they want to cut the budget of the United Nations, but they`re adding to the revenue that goes to Donald Trump`s properties from the federal government. And I don`t know how we`re going to get someone who has standing to bring a case, but under the domestic emoluments clause, one of the three emoluments causes in our Constitution, this is absolutely improper, Chris.

HAYES: Yes, it certainly looks that way. David Cay Johnston, thanks for joining me tonight.

JOHNSTON: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, as the President gave himself ten out of ten for the federal response to Hurricane Maria, the catastrophe in Puerto Rico that remains a man-made disaster more than 100 days later. That`s next.


HAYES: Many Puerto Ricans spent their first Christmas since Hurricane Maria without power. More than three months after the storm, the island`s electrical grid is operating just 65 percent, 65 percent of capacity. The Army Corps of Engineers says some areas may not get power back until May. The ongoing crisis there is taking a terrible toll. While the government says officially that 64 people died as a result of the storm, multiple news outlets now have looked at the data and say that it shows more than a thousand people may have lost their lives as a result of the storm. Mattathias Schwartz, an investigative journalist who visited Puerto Rico to witness the man-made disaster that goes on months after the natural disaster made its mark filed this report for New York Magazine. Mattathias, it`s a great bit of reporting. What did you encounter there that most surprised you or you sort of weren`t prepared for?

MATTATHIAS SCHWARTZ, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: One of the things that surprised me the most, Chris, was just the number of people who don`t have electricity in their homes a hundred days after the storm. That number is 65 percent overstates considerably the progress that the government has made in getting the lights back on. I talked to a lot of senior people there, including someone from the Army Corps who says that more than half of Puerto Rico`s population of $3.5 million people is still without electricity in their homes. We know that when people don`t have electricity, they die particularly in hospitals. That figure you cited earlier, 1,050 roughly extra deaths for September and October, we don`t know the November numbers yet but it looks like overall, mortality in Puerto Rico is up about 20 percent due to Hurricane Maria.

HAYES: Yes, I want to play this -- you know, there was this very bizarre and somewhat garish spectacle in which the President sort of applauded himself from the low death total in early days. I want to play that for you and compare it to what people there told you about their experience of it. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overbearing. Nobody`s ever seen anything like this, what is your -- what is your death count as of this moment, 17?


TRUMP: 16 people certified. 16 people versus in the thousands.


HAYES: What was the sort of effect of those deaths to the folks that you talked to and reported on?

SCHWARTZ: In the thousands of deaths you mean?


SCHWARTZ: Yes, well, people are sort of taking matters into their own hands, both in terms of the roads, the electrical grid, just providing everyday services to their -- to their neighborhoods. I think there`s a lot of shock and a lot of denial about how bad it`s been. I know that there are a lot of local governments who are misattributing deaths, deaths that are pretty obviously caused by the power going out are being chalked up to natural causes. I saw that firsthand, including an older guy in the Orocovis Municipality. He was on an oxygen machine, the power went out and he died that same night. And nevertheless, the local government in that municipality still put that down as a death by natural causes, just because he was old and the feeling was that it was -- is that it was his time. So there still hasn`t really been an accurate accounting of the effects of just how bad this has been for the people there.

And there sort of -- that place of advantage of the White House here in Washington, they can claim that the crisis is over. They`ve already substantially ramped down the response from a peak of 15,000 federal personnel on the ground to about 5,400 right now. They pulled back the U.S. Comfort, they`ve taken out the three-star general who was leading the effort, he said it`s time to transition the job to the Puerto Ricans but the job isn`t halfway over yet. You could say that it hasn`t even really started. So I mean, what we`re seeing is really a lowering of the bar of what kinds of basic services are American citizens entitled to? You know, it`s going to be a hundred days without electricity for you know, more than half of this -- of this U.S. territory in you know, less than a week now.

HAYES: All right, Mattathias Schwartz, you can read his great reporting over at New York Magazine. Thank you.

SCHWARTZ: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, what the President allegedly said about Haitians what his administration has actually done to immigrants. That`s next.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: The administration repeatedly fought for a version of its Muslim ban and terminated a humanitarian program for Haitians. A new report in the New York Times describes how much of President Trump`s far reaching immigration agenda appears to be a reflection of his personal bias.

For example, in a June meeting the president responded to a document that listed immigrant visas in 2017. Quoting the Times, "Haiti has sent 15,000 people, they all have AIDS, Trump grumbled", according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person that was there.

"40,000 who come from Nigeria Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States they would never", quoting here, "go back to their huts in Africa", recalled the two officials who asked for anonymity. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the president made those comments saying quote, "Senior staff actually in the meeting denied these outrageous claims."

Dara Lind has been reporting on immigration issues for a decade, been closely following the Trump agenda this year as a senior reporter for Vox. How much has changed, as you take a year look back, it seems that this is a place that was a focus from the first moment of the campaign, it has been a focus of the administration and it`s a place where you can do a lot without Congress. How much have they changed immigration enforcement in this year?

DARA LIND, VOX SENIOR REPORTER: Basically as much as they could. I think that the wholesale change that they want to see in immigration, you know, full replacement of the current based system with merit based immigration many of those parts that do need Congress they haven`t done yet but really to the extent that you retool the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to be about keeping immigrants out rather than selecting immigrants to come through, they`ve done basically everything in their power.

HAYES: What does that mean in terms of the lived experience of folks who are undocumented? We get these stories that have been horrifying. You know the father picked up at school. You know, the kid who`s got treatment at a hospital who`s maybe getting deported. But it`s also the case there was a lot of deportations under Obama and I wonder what it looks like on the ground differently.

LIND: The thing about those stories is that when you and I and others in the media see those and lift those up other people are - immigrants themselves are seeing them on social media and sharing them and so I`ve definitely heard a lot of cases of children including often U.S. citizen children born here, lived here their whole lives coming home from school and knowing more about what the Trump administration is doing than their parents would like them to know.

But it`s also worth noting that of course this isn`t just unauthorized immigrants, many mixed status families -

HAYES: Right.

LIND: . don`t feel fully safe in the U.S. And in the case of Haitian immigrants, 59,000 of them have been told by the Trump administration that they have to go back Haiti over - after more than a decade of living in the United States. So, the feeling of kind of that your being in the U.S. is conditional has become basically a condition of living as an immigrant in the U.S.

HAYES: There`s also the refugee program which they have effectively reduced to a 40 year low I believe at the time the global refugee population has exploded in the wake of Syria. We are taking fewer refugees now than in almost anytime in decades, right?

LIND: Yes, and it`s really more than that. The administration clearly has rejected the idea that there is such a thing as a global refugee crisis. They`ve pulled out of the U.N. global compact on migration, they have made it very clear that as far as they`re concerned they shouldn`t have to deal with far away refugees because nearby countries should be doing them, and they also don`t think that people coming from the northern triangle of Central America, i.e. close to the U.S., are refugees.

So, they`ve made it very - they`ve conveniently isolated themselves from any of the problems that have given awry to the refugee crisis, and thus said, well it shouldn`t be our job to take people because they`re suffering elsewhere which is not what the U.S. has done for the literal since World War II history of the global refugee program.

HAYES: All right. Dara Lind, thanks for making time tonight. Appreciate it.

LIND: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, how a Russian troll army infiltrated the election while Washington dithered. The first night, thing one, thing two next.


Thing one tonight, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah is not hiding his feelings about President Trump.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-UT: I`ll say this for you, he`s been one of the best presidents I`ve served under.

Now, Mr. President, I have to say that you`re living up to every - everything I thought you would. You`re one heck of a leader, and we`re going to keep fighting, and we`re going to make this the greatest presidency that we`ve seen not only in generations, but maybe ever.


HAYES: The best presidency maybe ever. That is some serious aberration, but the Senator Hatch marches in long stint with the President, how is his home state craving (ph) him. Well, he tweeted this out yesterday, "grateful for this great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune," with the front page declaring him Utahan of the Year. Pretty good. There`s just one problem with Hatch`s victory lap. It appears he did not read past the headline and certainly did not make it to the second sentence that reads as follows, "Let our readers or the honoree himself get the wrong impression." What Utah`s largest newspaper really thinks of Orrin Hatch`s thing two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Utah Senator Orrin Hatch tweet out yesterday, "Grateful for this great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune," which named him Utahan of the Year. Today, Hatch`s spokesperson appears to be doing damage control claiming the tweet was tongue-in-cheek and that`s because the so called honor bestowed by Utah`s largest paper doesn`t stretch beyond the headlines. The Tribune editorial board made clear the recipient is whoever has had the biggest impact for good or for ill. The paper blasts Hatch`s part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase- Escalante national monuments. They reserve their harshest attacks for Hatch`s refusal to retire. Breaking a promise he made in 2012 to step down after over 40 years, Utah`s largest paper calls it, "His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power."


HAYES: Now what exactly the U.S. knew about Russian interference and what the government did not do about it. An extensive report in "The Washington Post" based on interviews with dozens of current and former senior U.S. officials, the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and U.S. and European intelligence services as well as NATO representatives and top European diplomats, shows the U. S. Government knew all about the increasing threat of this information from Russia. When it came to countering it, big plans died of internal disagreement, a fear of making matters worse from misguided belief and the resilience of the American society and its Democratic institution. It was only in the waning days of the Obama presidency that U.S. spy agencies drew up specific covert plans to target Russian interference.

And intelligence officials tell the Post one year after those instructions were given, the Trump White House remains divided over whether to act. With me now, former CIA analyst Ned Price, the senior director of the National Security Council of the White House under President Obama. There`s -- there`s this kind of line that`s emerged, which is that -- that the Obama administration did too little, didn`t move quickly enough.

David Ignatius has said this among others. Do you think that`s a fair criticism?

NED PRICE, SENIOR DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OF THE WHITE HOUSE: I really don`t, Chris and I`ll tell you why. When this was developing, you have to recall the threat we were confronted with. We didn`t know how far these Russian active measures would go, if it would stop with this covert influence campaign that we saw extend through the 2016 election or if it would include something much more dramatic, something even more hostile, like tampering with ballots, tampering with voter rules.

So when this came to our attention, when the intelligence community first brought this to our attention in 2016, our first priority was to ensure that it never got that far, to ensure that the Russians would not take these measures to actually tamper with votes themselves, to tamper with ballots, to tamper with voter -- voter rules.

And through a concerted series of steps, diplomatic, intelligence and public -- you have to remember, we made this public a full month before the election -- we prevented that. The Department of Homeland Security said there was not an uptick in malicious cyber operations on election day.

HAYES: Anthony Blinken -- you worked with Tony Blinken at the NSC says -- he had this quote that really struck me. He says I thought our ground was not as fertile. We believe that the truth shall set you free, the truth will prevail. That proved a bit na‹ve. And there`s a sort of tenor to the whole way this issue gets covered of the sort like poor, innocent na‹ve United States and the bad Russians.

But the U.S. runs one of the biggest, most sprawling, effective and aggressive intelligence operations in the entire world. We`ve been involved in other countries` elections from 1946 to 2000 at least 81 times, according to best estimates. It always strikes me as a little odd the way that people talk about this as if like, oh we`re just sitting here as the U.S., we never thought that anyone could do something like this. Like, that`s not really true, right?

PRICE: Well, look, what is fair to say is that this was unprecedented. The scope and the scale of this operation is unlike anything we had ever seen. When the intelligence community released their.

HAYES: Unlike anything we`d ever seen targeted at us.

PRICE: Directed at us. That`s.

HAYES: I mean the CIA was giving bags of cash to the Christian Democratic Party of Italy for 24 years to have them (ph) defeat the communists. It`s not like this has never happened.

PRICE: No. You`re right on that point, Chris. But I think it`s also instructive to look at what the Russians had done to us in previous elections. In the lead up to the election of Jimmy Carter, they tried to recruit one democratic volunteer who was a campaign volunteer for Jimmy Carter`s campaign. In the lead up to the 2012 election, they used the so- called illegals, the non-official cover officers who were here to collect, you know, New York Times articles and other open-source information on our electoral characteristics.

So what we saw in 2016 was on -- on a vastly different scale and the scope of what we saw was quite different. And it`s my hope and it`s certainly my expectation -- it`s my hope and expectation that this administration takes those lessons from 2016 and actually implements them so that when the Russians do this again in 2018 and 2020 as we know they will, we will have learned from this experience and we`re better fortified against it.

HAYES: Some of it, though, also strikes me as just difficult in our free society with the first amendment, right? I mean, information is -- you know, is protected constitutionally. People can publish things -- they can publish all sorts of crazy things. And it strikes me as actually a really difficult problem to deal with within constitutional parameters.

PRICE: Well, it absolutely is. And that`s the case in two different directions. One, we don`t have the same authorities within our intelligence community to do the kinds of things that the Russians did against us. It`s actually written into statute that a covert action cannot influence a U.S. person. And so when you`re dealing in the age of Twitter and social media and you put out a -- and the U.S. intelligence community puts out a covert influence operation.

If that blows back and if that influences an American -- an American citizen, that.

HAYES: You (ph) violated the law. Yes.

PRICE: .that violates the law. But second of all, it`s also very difficult to measure how these things play on the American psyche. And what the Trump team has consistently done, they have pointed -- including in this Washington Post piece -- to the fact that, you know, what vote did this change. What voter in Michigan changed his or her vote because of this covert influence operation? That`s an incredibly difficult thing to measure. It`s not something the intelligence community can or would measure. It`s something for social scientists, frankly.

HAYES: All right. Ned press -- Price. Thanks for joining us.

PRICE: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, the allure of authoritarian thinking in the first of Trump. Masha Gessen is here to talk about that and her great new book next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was your call with Vladimir Putin?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was great. He said very nice things about what I`ve done for this country in terms of the economy and then said also some negative things in terms of what`s going on elsewhere.


HAYES: Vladimir Putin seems to have a pretty good read on how to affectively flatter Donald Trump, but back in Russia Putin is once again running for reelection and the Russia Election Commission has blocked Putin`s mean adversary from running for President. A move that has prompted opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, to call for his supporters to boycott the election and protest instead.

With me now, American Russian journalist, Masha Gessen, staff writer of "The New Yorker" who`s fantastic new book, "The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia," won the National Book Award this year which is very fancy and well deserved.


HAYES: Let`s start -- Putin making this move -- I saw this commentary saying, the opposition is not going to win the election. Like what is the point of making this declaration or having your sort of allies make this declaration to bar your chief rival from running?

GESSEN: That`s a great question. What he`s basically doing is he`s preventing Navalny from turning his movement into a political enterprise. Navalny is an anti-corruption blogger who`s created this incredible investigative organization that exposes corruption and that has actually been able to call for protests and get thousands, hundreds of thousands of people into the streets all over Russia.

The biggest protests that Russia has ever seen, twice this year. But they`re not political in the sense that they`re not people acting together. People come out because Navalny has asked them to come out and then they go home. People are allowed to run.

HAYES: And then they continue to investigate corruption, this would be this like change in its modality into effectively a party or something like that.

GESSEN: Basically it would be political enterprise because it would get people acting together in different regions in Russia and that is absolutely terrifying to the regime. I don`t this it`s -- would actually be capable of toppling, but it`s just too frightening to contemplate for Putin.

HAYES: A year into this relationship between our president and Russia`s president, what do you make of that axis (ph)?

GESSEN: Well I think Trump still sincerely adores Putin. I think Putin is pretty exasperated.


HAYES: Like many of Trump`s prior investors or creditors I would note.

GESSEN: I`m not convinced that Putin is an investor in the Trump enterprise. But I think that certainly Moscow thought it was governed (ph) incredibly (inaudible) American election, and they thought they because they assumed that America functions the same way that Russia does, that Trump would say the word and sanctions would fall and the great friendship would ensued.

And of course, America still doesn`t function quite the way that Russia does. And I think at this point, Putin really kind of wishes that he were dealing with Hillary because at least she would be consistent and she would be predictable. And Trump has sort of hijacked his madman on the international stage.

HAYES: That`s very interesting. What -- you`ve written a lot about your sort of worry about the tender (ph) of American rhetoric around Russia which is a worry I have to say I -- I -- I partly share. You sort of see shades of this kind of -- oh, so and so met with a Russian. As if like meeting with a Russian national is in of itself some great offense. But I was thinking about this story.

GESSEN: You`re doing it right now Chris.

HAYES: Well I was thinking about this story in the Washington Post about that started -- the one that we just reported on, started with a story about a freelancer writing for Counter Punch, which is a leftist site -- website, who proved to be some kind of Russian agent under a fact name.

And one level it`s like, well really, what`s the big deal? But it sort of distills the creepiness of the measures they`ve taken in a way that I find really unsettling that has a kind of insidiousness to it where you`re kind of questioning yourself all the time.

GESSEN: And I think that`s the greatest effect (ph). And I think that we`re sort of amplifying that effect by endlessly obsessing with them. As your previous guest pointed out, you know, there`s no sort of clear trajectory between that and actual votes cast. And it`s as though--

HAYES: Well that`s the defense the Trump administration makes. I should - - he was -- he was -- he was reciting a quote in the peace from a Trump official saying, well show me where the effect is.

GESSEN: Right. Well show me where the effect is, because actually the assumption that Russian disinformation influenced the American election contradicts everything we know about the way that people vote.

HAYES: I don`t I -- I`m not sure I buy that. Why do you say that?

GESSEN: No, because it doesn`t -- you know, what people read, if it doesn`t already confirm what they believe, does not influence how they vote.

HAYES: OK. Well all right. I mean, really productive (ph) about it. And why does anyone -- I mean, the logical conclusion of that is that no coverage whatsoever has an effect, right. I mean, in some cumulative sense, all this stuff does have some sort of marginal factor (ph) you think.

GESSEN: It does. But what we know, again, $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook.

HAYES: No, that I disagree with. I -- I think it`s the -- to me, it`s the Wiki Leaks cash. I mean, to it was -- it was the stories that came from the Podesta emails everyday for the last month of the campaign.

GESSEN: Right. That`s -- I mean, that`s a complicated story. But that`s -- you know, I`m talking sort of the social -- this --



GESSEN: We`re not talking about disinformation when we`re talking about the leaks.

HAYES: Right. Right. So -- so -- but -- but finish that thought because I cut you off about the sort of -- the way in which the amplification process happens and the sort of questioning of who`s -- you know, the Russian behind every bilinder (ph) door.

GESSEN: Right. So you know, Russia lives in this -- I mean, the -- Putin`s biggest effect -- we imagine this sort of this clear propaganda machine that has every Russian marching in step. That`s not actually what happens.

What happens under the kind of regime that Putin has created which recreated a lot of the Soviets utilitarianism institutions is reality is just mushy. It`s like nothing is what it seems. And anything is possible. And we have -- we`re falling into that same abyss, right? Almost of our free choice. Because we`re choosing to engage with, you know, the endlessly revealed secrets. Instead of the really scary reality that we can actually observe and prove.


HAYES: Which means (ph) the behavior of this administration.

GESSEN: There`s just the behavior of this administration, and the concerted attack on institutions and the destruction of the judiciary and the -- and the decimation of the -- of the State Department. And I can go on and on, right? But this is stuff we can actually engage in. It`s scary. But it`s reality.

HAYES: It`s a -- it`s a -- it`s a really excellent point. I should say the book, which I`ve started is an amazing sort of look at the trajectory of Russia, sort of post, you know, 91 and the way in which these sort of institutions got reasserted themselves in the lives of ordinary Russians. It`s a really fantastic read. People (inaudible), it`s always a pleasure. Come back any time.

GESSEN: Thank you very much for having.

HAYES: All right. That is All In.



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