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Shades of Watergate Transcript 12/28/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Jackie Speier, Charlie Dent, Charlie Pierce

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 28, 2017 Guest: Jackie Speier, Charlie Dent, Charlie Pierce

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, "HARDBALL": She is one of the very best people I have met in this business, and thank you for everything. We wish you all the very best. That is "Hardball" for now. Thank you for being with us.

ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The country is really - it`s just a big, big beautiful ship that we`re turning around.


HAYES: President Trump`s hard sell.


TRUMP: We`re in a very special period of time. And it`s going to be even more so.


HAYES: Tonight, how Donald Trump has accomplished less than he wants you to know and how a year of resistance is actually working.

Then, two former Watergate prosecutors on the most incriminating discoveries from the Russia investigation.


TRUMP: In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know - this Russia thing.


HAYES: And the eerie parallels to the Nixon probe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And guess what else he is? A consultant to President Richard Nixon`s re-election campaign committee.


HAYES: And as Roy Moore officially loses, why the Republican Party isn`t done with its Roy Moore problem.




And ALL IN starts right now.

Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. As the first year of the Donald Trump presidency draws to a close, the president and his allies are trying to sell a message: they`ve gotten more done than anyone could have possibly imagined, starting with all those bills the president has signed.


TRUMP: You know, one of the things that people don`t understand, we have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman. We have more legislation passed, including the record was Harry Truman. That`s a long time ago. And we broke that record.


HAYES: That claim is almost cartoonishly false. According to GovTrack, Trump has signed the fewest number of bills into law than any first-year president dating all the way back to Dwight Eisenhower, with Trump signing less than half as many bills as Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush had at this point.

This, despite the president`s party controlling both houses of Congress, a luxury not afforded to many of his predecessors. Thus far, Trump has one major solitary legislative achievement. That would be the GOP tax bill designed to primarily benefit the wealthy and corporations, which is polling at just 24 percent, making it more unpopular than tax hikes under Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

That tax bill that Trump just signed was supposed to simplify the tax code and make paying your taxes much easier. Most people, its proponents promised, would be able to file their taxes on a post card.

Instead, experts say, the GOP made the tax code more complicated and confusion now reigns. Many Americans spent their holiday rushing to prepay their 2018 property taxes before the new rules go into effect, even though the IRS clarified yesterday, sort of, saying that many will not actually benefit from doing so.

For this, as for so many things, President Trump demands gratitude.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Mr. President, thank you for getting us over the finish line. Thank you for getting us where we are.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America.

REP. DIANE BLACK (R), CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE: Thank you, President Trump, for allowing us to have you as our president.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, President Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, President Trump, for letting us say Merry Christmas again.


HAYES: He also, by the way, wants you to thank him for how much he`s done for the economy.


TRUMP: We have created more than 2 million jobs since the election. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. The stock market is at an all-time high. And just a little while ago, hit yet another all-time high.


HAYES: Three White House officials tell "POLITICO", they plan to use the economy as a centerpiece of the White House`s political message in 2018, even though hard economic data on growth, job creation and wages look very similar to the last several years under President Obama. In fact, the pace of job growth has actually slowed slightly.

Now, it is true the rich are making off like bandits. Unquestionably. After passing the tax bill, the president told his wealthy friends, "you all just got a lot richer." And the world`s 500 wealthiest people became $1 trillion richer in 2017. That, of course, is cold comfort for everyone else.

A recent poll found that just 20 percent of people believe they`re better off under Trump, while 33 percent say their situation has gotten worse. And more than half the public, 52 percent, say the country as a whole is worse off since Trump took office.

This speaks to a simple fact. Donald Trump right now is an historically unpopular president. Heading into the Christmas holiday, Trump had the worst approval rating in the history of modern polling for any president at this point in their first term, around 37 percent.

And he has dragged his party down with him. The Republican brand is in tatters. Democrats have opened a huge lead in the generic congressional ballot. And the GOP even managed somehow to lose a Senate race in deep red Alabama.

But it`s not just about Trump. It is a testament to the fact the forces opposed to him have organized and activated and deployed in an unprecedented way. From the day after the inauguration when millions mobilized for the women`s march, the protests and lawsuits over the travel ban which remains partially blocked, to the healthcare protests that helped keep Obamacare the law of the land, in short, the resistance has been working. And for all his bluster, there seems to be nothing the president can do to stop it.

With me now, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Democrat from California, and Congressman Charlie Dent, Republican from Pennsylvania, who plans to retire from Congress at the end of this term.

Congresswoman Speier, let me start with you. How would you assess this year from the standpoint of a Democratic Party that was shell shocked by Trump`s win, does not have a majority in either house of Congress, but has mobilized its base quite intensely and mobilized public opinion quite effectively?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I would say from the Democratic perspective, we are optimistic and hopeful. But I would also guard against feeling that somehow we`re going to regain the majority. I think there`s a lot of hard work ahead of us in the 2018 election cycle.

HAYES: Congressman Dent, will it be worth it when the history books are written to have cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, given what may also play out in history associating you and your colleagues and the Republican Party with whatever it is Donald Trump has done or does?

REP. CHARLIE DENT (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I guess let me take the first part of that question. Was it appropriate to take the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent? I would argue yes.

Our corporate tax structure needed to be brought into the 21st century. We needed to be competitive with our European and OEDC counterparts. That was done.

Now, in the context of the broader image ratings of the president, I really can`t say much about that. But you pointed out his image ratings are quite bad and that`s true.

I would say this year ended better than it began. Let me just put it that way. It began terribly.

HAYES: Let me ask you this, though. Does it blow your mind, as it blows mine, that you guys just passed a tax cut, a $1.4 trillion tax cut. That`s a lot of money. You could just write every household in America could have been written a $1,000 check every year for 10 years for about the cost of the tax cut.

You passed a tax cut that is polling at 24, 25, 29 percent. It`s astounding to me. Like, what does that say to you?

DENT: Well, it says to me that most people don`t really know what`s in the bill, to be very honest with you. I have a good understanding of what`s in the bill, but a lot of people, all they hear what`s been over the media.

If all I hear is just look at the press clippings and watch the TV shows, I wouldn`t be supportive of the bill either. But there is just - I don`t think it`s well understood what is actually in the bill.

HAYES: Doesn`t it - let me say this, though. To me, it`s also about whether they trust the Republican Party and Donald Trump to be looking out for their interests, right?

So, I understand that the story for the bill`s supporters like yourself is that essentially the media has spun this up in a negative fashion. And part of that happens with every bill. You should talk to the Obamacare writers about how they felt the media covered Obamacare at the time.

But there`s also a fundamental issue of trust. It seems to me the American people just don`t - majorities of the American people do not trust the Republican Party as looking out for their interests.

DENT: Well, I think it`s probably fair to say that because President Trump supports this tax bill, a lot of people oppose it for that reason. Let`s face it.

HAYES: Right.

DENT: The president has - I mean, I`ll be honest with you about that. But if you actually start polling actually what`s in the bill, if you get your rates reduced and your standard deduction is doubled, the child tax credit is increased and there`s a refundable credit up to $1,400, people start to say they like those provisions.

But because the president`s name is attached to it, I think that`s what`s dragging down the image of the bill right now.

HAYES: Congresswoman Speier, what do you want to see the Democratic Party sort of focus on in 2018? Obviously, opposition resistance are sort of its own message. There`s always this question of does the party have a platform to run on in 2018?

SPEIER: Well, we certainly do need a platform to run on in 2018. It cannot be just about opposing the president.

And for all the talk, there really haven`t been that many more jobs created. So, if, in fact, we can do a robust infrastructure bill, one that the Democrats can embrace, that is not just a public-private partnership, then we will be way ahead of where we have been.

But I think focusing on jobs is going to be key.

HAYES: But you mean a bill that you would negotiate with the president and vote for and the president would sign?

SPEIER: Right. Now, if, in fact, what he wants to do is just give a lot of tax credits to those who are going to build toll roads, that`s not going to cut it for those of us on the Democratic side.

HAYES: But isn`t the sort of the lesson of McConnellism, which is a brilliant, brilliant insight that I think he had more than anyone, is that there is no reason to vote for anything ever, unless on a duress, for the person who occupies the White House if you are not in his party?

SPEIER: Well, certainly, that was his entire campaign effort where he said his whole job was to make sure that President Obama was not re-elected for a second term.

But I do think, for us, it is going to be important to look for ways to create jobs and make that - we`re all about a better deal. Better jobs, better wages, better future. So, the extent to which the president wants to extend his hand and shake on a deal like that, we might be able to move forward.

HAYES: All right. Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Congressman Charlie Dent, thanks to both of you. Have a great new year.

SPEIER: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now MSNBC contributor Kimberly Atkins, Chief Washington reporter and columnist for the "Boston Herald" and Charlie Pierce, writer- at-large for "Esquire."

One of the things that I think happened is so many people were caught unawares by Trump`s win, there has been, I think, a tendency to overcorrect a little bit and sort of view Trump as a sort of political magician whose magic is not appreciated by the press, but is appreciated by the people in sort of opposition to the evidence.

Where do you think things stand right now, Kimberly?

KIMBERLY ATKINS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, right now, we are seeing the result of both the movement that led to Donald Trump to win and the resistance, as you`re talking about, sort of coming out equally and sort of pushing against each other for an entire year now.

Donald Trump has racked up some wins, including this tax bill. But a lot of the agenda items which he has not been able to really realize has been because there has been this really sharp pushback that began almost immediately since he was elected, from legal challenges to members of his own party like senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, who stood up and sort of stood up to both his behavior in terms of the message that he was giving to the world and also specific policies like efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

So, it`s been this sort of struggle, a year of struggle between President Trump and other forces, whether they`re Republicans, Democrats, public opinion, or other things.

HAYES: Charlie, I have a theory that Trumpism, as a sort of political force in American life, would actually be stronger now if Hillary Clinton were the president because it would remain this sort of abstract cudgel of opposition, as opposed to the lived reality of governance, which the majority of the country does not like.

CHARLIE PIERCE, WRITER-AT-LARGE, "ESQUIRE": Right. And I think the other important point to remember is that Donald Trump may be sui generis as a political figure, but what he`s been enacting is simply the Republican wish list ever since 1980.


PIERCE: And, I mean, there`s - there is no question, when you look at what they did with the tax bill, when you look at demolishing regulatory agencies basically by appointing people who hate them, I mean, that goes back to Reagan, with James Watt and Anne Gorsuch.

I mean, he`s governing as the president people thought Reagan was going to be. And I don`t know how much of that is him and how much of that is opportunism on the part of a very united Republican Congress.

HAYES: Kimberly, it strikes that`s a key point. I always thought that if Trump were elected, we would basically get a president Pence in terms of policy, and largely that`s what it`s been.

And it speaks in some ways that there`s a deeper issue about the Republican Party, which has been very good at winning elections, but whose basic core substantive agenda remains sort of amazingly unpopular when implemented.

ATKINS: I think that`s absolutely true. And I think it`s the latter point that Charlie made. I think it`s that the places - I think Donald Trump doesn`t have that key ideology that Republicans have.

What we have seen time and time again are efforts by Donald Trump to score some sort of win. Some sort of victory. Whether he would get it from Chuck and Nancy or whether he would get it from Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and the Republican Congress. And it seems the latter tends to happen more often. So, he`s sort of fallen within that Republican mold.

But he doesn`t have - I don`t think that he embraces that ideology in that same way. I think he`s just trying to look for a way to win, to get ahead. There are a lot of things that he did propose that was not necessarily a part of the Republican ideology.

We saw a lot of Republicans pushing against a Muslim ban or things like that. I think he just wants to get - score wins, move forward, and not be thwarted in everything that he sees as an impediment, whether it`s the Mueller investigation or Republicans or Democrats he swipes against, he pushes back against that. So, I think that`s more what we`re seeing here.

I mean, in terms of the idea of Trumpism, we have to remember that the election, he didn`t really win any sort of mandate, he didn`t come in on some massive wave. There were two candidates with really low approval ratings, and he won out.

HAYES: And lost the popular vote by a historic margin for an electoral college winner. Right.

ATKINS: So, I think that`s important to remember.

HAYES: Charlie, that`s what`s so amazing to me is this year has been this sort of amazing experiment in minority governance. You know, the Democratic House candidates, Democratic Senate candidates got more votes than Republican candidates. Democrat House candidates got almost as many as Republican House candidates despite the margin. Democratic political candidate for president got a majority and yet a unified government by Republicans.

PIERCE: Right. I mean, and the employment of this unified government is basically a smash and grab operation. Because with the way things are looking, the government may well not be unified come the second week in November of next year.

So, they`re getting it while they can. And they`re getting all the things they`ve wanted for 30 years while they can. I don`t think they`re going to get - for example, I don`t think they`re going to get entitlement reform because I don`t think they dare in an election year. But everything else.

As I said, I covered the Ronald Reagan campaign in 1980. And they were talking about lessening regulations, government isn`t the solution, government is the problem. That`s what you`re seeing. At least from the Congressional Republicans. And I think it evinces a kind of policy rot in that party that isn`t going to go away when the president does.

HAYES: Kimberly Atkins and Charlie Pierce, thank you both for your time tonight.

Next, the Russian hacker claiming he can prove he was responsible for DNC hacks. Jill Wine-Banks and Nick Akerman on that and the most consequential discoveries over seven months of the Mueller investigation in two minutes.


HAYES: A man in a Russian jail claims he is the one who hacked the DNC under direct orders from Russian intelligence last year and he says he left behind proof in the hack.

According to McClatchy, a man named Konstantin Koslovsky gave an interview to a Moscow television station saying that Russia`s intelligence agency ordered the hack. And Koslovsky said he left behind a sort of digital signature, a hidden data file, including the numbers of his Russian passport and a travel visa.

Now, only a few people have seen the details of the hack. So, we don`t know on the outside if indeed this jailed hacker is telling the truth or not. But it is a good reminder of how much still remains unknown about Russia`s interference in the 2016 election and whether there was coordination with the Trump campaign.

Nevertheless, we have learned a tremendous amount this year, including repeated suspicious connections between Trump`s campaign in Russia as well as conclusions by the US intelligence community that "Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-Elect Trump."

Two former Watergate prosecutors join me to sift through what we`ve learned so far. MSNBC legal analyst Nick Akerman and MSNBC contributor Jill Wine- Banks.

All right. I want to talk a little bit about the most significant things we`ve learned this year because there`s been a lot of new revelations this year. And I want to start with what I think is the most - to me, it was the most important, the biggest turning point moment, the Don, Jr. e- mails, the e-mails from the intermediary with the Russian oligarch family, from the publicist who says we want to give you some dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government`s efforts to aid your father. He says if it`s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer. They then meet. Do you agree this is maybe the most significant thing we`ve learned?

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST AND FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: It`s one of the most significant things. But I think actually the most significant thing we just learned was the Flynn guilty plea, where he, in his allocution before the court, so that the court would accept his guilty plea, he admitted that the materiality of his lies in January after the election were material to the FBI`s investigation into the coordination between Russia and the campaign.

So, what he lied about -

HAYES: That`s interesting.

AKERMAN: What he lied about in January relates directly to what happened during the campaign. Which means that what he lied about had to do with sanctions.

So, if you`re looking at the big picture here, which the meeting with Don, Jr. falls into, you`re looking at a conspiracy to essentially hack into the DNC and use that information to help the Trump campaign win the election.

And what I think the public doesn`t understand is that a conspiracy doesn`t mean that people agreed to the objectives, all of them all at the same time, at the same moment. That you can join a conspiracy at any point in time. That two people can agree. You and I could agree, but yet I don`t have to agree with Jill that you and Jill could agree.

HAYES: Right, right.

AKERMAN: And then, I could become part of that conspiracy that you and Jill initially agreed to start.

HAYES: Right.

AKERMAN: So, if you look at all of the things that we have found and you put it all together, going back to Papadopoulos in April of 2016, learning about the fact that e-mails were stolen from the Democratic National Committee.

HAYES: I want to talk about that because that, to me, is - I have this down as the second-most important thing to me. I`m not ranking them. But of the two things that really shook me this year, whoa, Jill, was the fact that Papadopoulos is told by essentially - the speculation is a Russian cutout of some sort, that the Russians have thousands of e-mails with dirt on Hillary Clinton. He learns that April 26, 2016.

That is before the public knows it. How significant is that?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think all of these things that you`ve mentioned and that Nick mentioned are very significant.

I think, in your first mention, you`ve mentioned what Don, Jr.`s response was, which included especially if it`s later in the summer, which is part of his helping to weaponize the information that the Russians had. He was suggesting when was a better time to release the information.

And remember that they also hacked into the RNC, but nothing from the RNC was ever leaked. Which is another very suspicious fact.

So, all of these. And, of course, Papadopoulos` efforts and the information that he had and the timing of it are very significant. So, all of these things keep adding up to looking at not just Russian interference in our election, but to what Americans were participating in that, who conspired to help the Russians do this?

And then, the third part is, of course, who`s obstructing the investigation of both of those?

HAYES: The obstruction question which didn`t exist last year, because I don`t think there was a plausible case for obstruction or the actions hadn`t been taken -

Right. But in the course of the year, you know, you`ve got the president finding out, according to him, that his national security adviser lied to the FBI. And then asking for loyalty from the FBI director. Then asking the FBI director to stop his investigation of the man that he knows had lied to the FBI. Then firing him when he doesn`t. And then saying, when I fired him, I was thinking about the Russia investigation. And that`s all the publicly known things we know.

AKERMAN: Right. That`s obstruction. But you can go back even further. Look at Papadopoulos in April of 2016. The campaign learned that the Russians had committed a federal felony by breaking into the DNC servers. Did anybody report that? No!

HAYES: Although they might have also thought it was just trash talk or loose chatter. I mean, I`m saying at the moment.

The thing that always gets me, Jill - to Nick`s point, the thing that always gets me is, at no point during the year - and we`ve seen all these e-mails, right, they`re getting pinged by all these Russians, does anyone have a lightbulb go on and go, wait a second, the Russians really are trying to help us win. Like, that`s the thing that is missing from all this to me. That anyone with a brain - and there were some people in that operation with one - would put together at some point.

WINE-BANKS: Well, yes. They could keep claiming that they were just novices who didn`t know what they were doing, although one would think that one wouldn`t want the government run by such novices. But there were expert people there. There were people with a lot of experience. And they didn`t do anything about it because they were all cooperating with the Russians and with this information.

So, you`re quite right in terms of what this means to democracy, what it means to the election, what it means to the investigation that Mueller is taking on now. I think we have a long way yet to go, because when you look back, it has only been about seven months since Mueller was appointed. And that`s not a very long time.

And yet, he already has two people who have pled guilty, two who are under indictment and could go to trial sometime soon, and you know that with the cooperating witnesses that he has that he`s looking at a lot of other things. So, it`s really going to be an exciting year coming up.

HAYES: Feels like a lot of shoes are dangling in the air, ready to drop. Nick Ackerman, Jill Wine-Banks, thanks for joining me.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: After the break, as Robert Mueller`s investigation reaches into 2018, a look at the lessons to be learned from the Watergate investigation ahead.



REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: I call on my Republican colleagues to join me in calling for the firing of Bob Mueller. And, look, it`s time for Mueller to put up or shut up. If there is evidence of collusion with Russia, let`s see it.


HAYES: That`s an argument that`s been made by many of the president`s allies and defenders trying to discredit or even shut down the Russia investigation.

It goes like this. After seven months on the job, they say, Robert Mueller still hasn`t turned up smoking gun evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, which must mean no such evidence exists.

But that claim, no smoking gun, is itself debatable, after all. And if history`s any guide, the investigation may have a ways yet to go.

In the case of Watergate, individual pieces of President Nixon`s conspiracy were out in the open almost from the beginning, long before their significance was understood.

And yet, the extent of the conspiracy remained under wraps for months and months till it was finally exposed thanks to a major breakthrough - the existence of Oval Office tapes.


FRED THOMPSON, THEN MINORITY COUNSEL: Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?

ALEXANDER BUTTERFIELD, WHITE HOUSE AIDE: I was aware of listening devices. Yes, sir.


HAYES: The rest, as they say, is history. Now, I did not live through Watergate, but I`ve been looking back to that period, like many people, to try and gain a better understanding of the Russia investigation, our own potential version of Watergate.

And there`s a great new podcast from "Slate" called " Slow Burn". Up next, host Leon Neyfakh on Watergate`s lessons for today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a police photograph of James W. McCord. He is one of five persons surprised and arrested yesterday inside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington. McCord is a former CIA employee. Now he runs his own private security service.

And guess what else he is? A consultant to President Richard Nixon`s re- election campaign committee.


HAYES: One day after the original Watergate break-in in June 1972, one day, the public already knew that one of the burglars who had been caught breaking into the DNC was directly connected to the president`s own re- election campaign. And yet Nixon would go on to win by a historic landslide just a few months later. It would be two years before he was eventually forced out of the White House, and at no point was that conclusion inevitable.

A new podcast cast called Slow Burn lays out the long road from the break- in to Nixon`s resignation, showing how the Watergate scandal eventually took down a president.

I`m joined now by the host of Slow Burn, staff writer at Slate Leon Neyfakh. It`s a fantastic podcast.

You know what I think is great about it? Watergate is -- the story of Watergate is always told by people who lived through it, and they assume a lot of knowledge. Like, I remember my dad talking about it and be like Halderman this and Ehrlichman that, I was like I have no idea who these people are. They`re such monumental characters in the minds of people that lived through it for obvious reasons. But when you attacked it with fresh eyes, one of the things that`s striking is there was so much that was so obvious from the beginning and yet it took so long.

LEON NEYFAKH, SLATE MAGAZINE: Yeah, I mean, one of my first eye-opening moments was realizing that "All the President`s Men" covers like the first five months of the story, and then there`s almost two more years after that. And the fact that so many facts were already established by the time the election happened is startling.

HAYES: What was the reason -- I mean, you`ve got Wright Patman tries to kind of have a hearing about this before the election, like this is a little fishy, I want to show the footage from that evening news about how successful this hearing was. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman Wright Patmam made another attempt today to investigate the Watergate affair. He got nowhere. Harold Stern (ph) reports.

HAROLD STERN (ph), JOURNALIST: The hearings were supposed to begin at 10:00 a.m. but the hour came and went without the witnesses or even a quorum. Republicans boycotted the meeting as did those invited to testify.

Former Nixon re-election chief John Mitchell, as chief Marie Stans (ph), White House lawyer John Dean, and current campaign chairman Clark McGregor.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: How were they able to cover it up for so long?

NEYFAKH: So, there were a few reasons I think that people didn`t take it quite as seriously as we think now in retrospect they should have. One was that it seemed so kind of grubby. Like it was this burglary in an office building. How could the president of the United States, this guy who is going to China to make deals with the Chinese, and going to Russia, how could this guy have been involved in this pathetic stuff?

HAYES: Right. It was like too low rent to imagine the most powerful person in the world literally calling Smart and be like go bug the DNC, that seemed preposterous.

NEYFAKH: Yeah. And then the other sort of flip side to it which was like, well, everyone does this. This is just politics as usual. This is fine. Like every campaign in the history of campaigns has done this kind of thing.

HAYES: And those are the two places where I see a lot of parallels with Trump.

NEYFAKH: Indeed.

HAYES: I think one of the things is that as sort of venal as many people view the president, there`s still some sense in which it seems fundamentally unserious to think that he like sent an email at some point, being like hack the emails. And yet who knows? Right, the lesson from Watergate is, a president could literally be that venal.

NEYFAKH: Yes. And the Watergate affair, the Watergate scandal as we now was initially reported as the Watergate caper. And it was sort of seen as this like funny thing that happened, but in the same way like you think -- you imagine Donald Trump Jr. like DM`ing over Twitter with WikiLeaks. You imagine Papadopoulos going -- having these meetings. It all just seems very small. And you can`t imagine that a presidential campaign would actually engage in this stuff. And so I think that`s one of the obstacles to really absorbing it.

HAYES: The other one that I`ve been thinking a lot about is the tapes. That if the tapes don`t show up, it`s possible Nixon gets away with the whole thing.

NEYFAKH: Oh, yeah. I think that`s definitely true. And, you know, he could have destroyed the tapes. He could have won the legal battle that raged over the tapes for so long. He could have -- we could have never found out about the tapes. The fact that we found out about the tapes...

HAYES: ...was almost an accident in and of itself.

NEYFAKH: Yeah, and actually the next episode of Slow Burn coming out next week is actually about the sort of serendipitous circumstances under which the tapes were discovered. It could have easily proceeded without ever coming out.

HAYES: So, I guess my question is do you have confidence having immersed yourself in this, do you have confidence that we will at some point come to a definitive conclusion of what happened with Trump and Russia?

NEYFAKH: I hope so. And actually I think that one of the main reasons like public pressure built in the way that it did during Watergate is that people just wanted to know. They wanted to know what happened. And I think that was as much behind the sort of swelling of rage that happened after the Saturday night massacre as anything else. Like people just wanted to know.

HAYES: No substitute for narrative tension.

NEYFAKH: Yeah, exactly.

HAYES: Leon Neyfakh, great to have you here.

NEYFAKH: Thank you so much.

HAYES: Coming up, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and how the Republican Party may not be able to close the Pandora`s Box of misfit candidates in 2018 and beyond.

And The Art of the Lie in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, one hallmark of the Trump era isn`t just lies, it`s obvious egregious in your face lies, ones that are then later lied about to cover up the first lie. The man President Trump named as U.S. ambassador to Netherlands, the former Michigan congressman Pete Hoekstra falls right in line with that ethos. The Dutch were already unhappy with the choice, because of Hoekstra`s history of Islamophobia. And here is in an interview with a Dutch journalist just 10 days after he was sworn in as ambassador.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking of threats, at one point you mentioned in a debate that there are no-go zones in The Netherlands and that cars and politicians are being set on fire in The Netherlands.

PETE HOEKSTRA, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE NETERLANDS: I didn`t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement.


HOEKSTRA: We would call it fake news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that fake news, because it`s what you said.

HOEKSTRA: No, it`s not what I said.


HAYES: Now, can you imagine if, I don`t know -- let`s say, the Dutch journalist came prepared with video of the ambassador saying exactly those words? That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.



HAYES: So a funny thing happened when the U.S. ambassador to The Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, denied saying a thing that he actually said. Here`s the full exchange with Dutch journalist Walter Swart (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking of threats, at one point you mentioned in a debate that there are no-go zone in The Netherlands and that cars and politicians are being set on fire in The Netherlands.

HOEKSTRA: I didn`t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement.


HOEKSTRA: We would call it fake news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that fake news, because it`s what you said.

HOEKSTRA: No, it`s not what I said.

The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have point Europe into chaos, chaos in The Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned. And, yes, there are no-go zones in The Netherlands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You call it fake news. Obviously...

HOEKSTRA: I didn`t call that fake news. I didn`t use the word today.


HOEKSTRA: No. I don`t think I did.



HAYES: Do you see that? Do you see the moment where the brain of this poor Dutch journalist is broken by the sheer insane bad faith of the Trumpian method? "I didn`t call that fake news." He just called it fake news, a reminder of what Hoekstra said just moments before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that cars and politicians are being set on fire in The Netherlands...

HOEKSTRA: I didn`t say that, that is actually an incorrect statement.


HOEKSTRA: We would call it fake news.


HAYES: That created headlines in The Netherlands like this one, "New Trump ambassador to The Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra lies about his own lies."

Hoekstra has since apologized in a statement for certain remarks he made in 2015, and for the exchange with the Dutch journalist. So, for the record, less than two weeks into his new job representing our country in The Netherlands, Hoekstra has apologized for his lie, and for his lie about that lie.




TRUMP: You look at what`s going on in Chicago, what the hell is happening there?


HAYES: America`s third-largest city is a punching bag for the president of the United States. Throughout his campaign, throughout his presidency, even as recently as this month, Donald Trump has used the city`s sudden homicide spike in 2015 and 2016 as a foil for his law and order, I put that in quotation marks, candidacy.

But here`s the thing, murders and shootings in Chicago are actually, thankfully, down this year. Still high, but down, which makes the president`s consistent portrayal of the entire city of Chicago as some kind of war zone insulting, inaccurate, and for police superintendent Eddie Johnson, exasperating.


EDDIE JOHNSON, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: It`s a little frustrating at times, because I mean, that narrative doesn`t really depict what`s going on in Chicago. Certainly we have our challenges, and certainly 2016 was a horrible year. But we`ve made a lot of progress in 2017, based on the hard work of the police officers and the hard work of our community partners that`s helping us. So it gets to be a little frustrating at times.

HAYES: Let`s talk about that. I think people -- the president and others have invoked the city of Chicago so often with respect to this one specific aspect of the city. It`s the homicide -- it`s the number of homicides, shootings down this year 21 percent, murders down 14 percent. What is your understanding of what has changed this year?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, we came off of a horrible 2016, of course. And that was off the heels of the release of the Laquan McDonald video at the end of 2015. So, going into 2017, we laid out a strategy that included making better use of data and technology to help us, that was one piece. Second piece was going to Springfield to ask our legislators to help us hold repeat gun offenders more accountable. And then the third bucket was to get more engaged with the community and, you know, rebuild the trust that we had lost.

And I think that that one piece has paid huge dividends for us in helping to reduce the violence.

HAYES: Tangibly what`s that mean?

JOHNSON: So, what that actually means is we got out there -- you know, when I first became superintendent, we attended a lot of community meetings, met with a lot of activists, just to hear their concerns, you know, and see what they really thought about how things were going. And I simply asked them to help partner with the Chicago Police Department to help reduce the crime.

You know, we will be accountable for when we did something wrong or made mistakes, and in turn I needed them to buy into what we were doing to transform CPD, but we also need the community`s help to help us reduce this gun violence out here.


HAYES: Now, as you may know, if you watch our show, we have been reporting from Chicago all year long, from a town hall we did back in February, to multiple on the ground interviews with our colleague Trymaine Lee. And tomorrow night, we`ll return for an in-depth look at the cycle of violence and of trauma in Chicago and hope for the city`s future, a city far more rich and more complicated than the president makes it out to be. All In America: Chicago airs right here tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Don`t miss it.

Right, up next, the senate candidate accused of molestation who received the endorsement of the president officially loses the election. The party of Trump after this.


HAYES: Accused child molester Roy Moore is officially also a loser. After three Republicans, Alabama Governor Kay Ivy, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall today certify the results of the Alabama special election. Democrat Doug Jones is the new Senator-elect from Alabama.

Shortly before that a judge denied a lawsuit Roy Moore filed yesterday claiming he was the victim of rampant voter fraud, former White House strategist and Breitbart executive editor Steve Bannon is trying to cover his tracks for his very enthusiastic consistent support for Moore, now claiming Moore wasn`t a good candidate because, quote, "Judge Moore has never been really an economics guy."

Bannon is also attempting to distance himself from self-described pro-white politician Paul Nehlen who is challenging Ppaul Ryan for his congressional seat. In a recent tweet, Nehlen wrote, quote, "hey American Jews, I`m not putting Israel first or compromising pro-white interests for yours." He also tweeted about an anti-Semitic book. An adviser to Bannon told CNN that, quote, Nehlen is dead to us, except he was very much alive a few weeks ago in Alabama when Nehlen was literally on stage campaigning for Roy Moore alongside none other than two-shirted strategic genius Steve Bannon.

With me now Tim Miller a Republican strategist and Charlie Sykes, MSNBC contributor, editor of Right Wisconsin.

I think there is a problem for the Republican Party. And it is this, who is entering the party right now? Who is being cultivated as the future organizers and leaders? Who are the young Republicans on campus? And I think increasingly they are the Breitbart folks. They are people who like Paul Nehlen, they are people who are white nationalists avowedly. They are people who like to play around with Nazi propaganda. And I think this is unrecognized as a major threat for American politics and Republican Party as we go forward. What do you think, Tim?

TIM MILLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don`t know if I would go all the way that far. I think certainly there are a lot of young Republicans on campus that are wishing that they had better alternatives than Donald Trump, and would like to get activated. But one thing that you said that`s right, and I think one thing that I will, I guess, marginally give credit to Stave Bannon and Donald Trump about is they saw where the party was moving. It`s moving more towards frankly a working class, rural, ex-urban type of voter and that`s the base of the party now and those voters are responding to this cultural grievance and racial grievance and what Bannon likes to claim is economic nationalism, but he doesn`t ever act on. He only really tends to focus on the cultural and racial grievance aspect of it.

HAYES: But I think -- I honestly think that`s a little overstated, actually. And I`ll let you respond - but Charlie, I want your take on this. Because I actually think one things that I think people are having a hard time thinking about in of where the Republican Party is right now is that if you go to Naples, Florida, where I was for the hurricane, that is Trump land and you know what those are, those are affluent white retirees. Those look like the same people that have been the base of the Republican forever and that`s Trump land.

And there is wealthy counties outside Nashville, Tennessee that are Trump land. And thye don`t look like the Rust Belt. They don`t look like Kentucky. The Milwaukee suburbs, I bet you, were Trump land. And those don`t look like those places.

So, I think Republican Party is a little in denial about who its base actually is.

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes. And also I mean you said it was an unrecognizable threat. You know, some of us have recognized it, because, look, this is an existential threat to the Republican Party. We`re not talking about economic nationalists here. You know, Paul Nehlen was, you know, a crank, a bigot and a gifter. Roy Moore is a crank, a bigot, you know, and an accused pedophile. And yet at various times, rather than being treated as fringe candidates, they were supported by political genius Steve Bannon, Breitbart, and in one way or another embraced by the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

And, you know, the problem is, is that, you know, the Republican Party has been engaged in this fight over its soul for the last two years and this is kind of ground zero, because if Republicans do not draw a pretty strict line, they will change the nature of the party. They will signal that this, that we are OK with this, that these are the people that we are bringing in and that are normalizing.

I mean, Paul Nehlen, who has gone complete neo-Nazi here you know was appointed by Sarah Palin and Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter...

HAYES: The president of the United States tweeted nice things about him and played footsie with him. This is a guy who is tweeting out an anti- Semitic -- I mean, full like neo-Nazi screed about how the Jews act as a group to dominate society.

SYKES: And look, he was a bigot when he was running last time. I devoted a chapter in my book, "The Bigots Among Us" when Paul Nehlen was actually publicly calling for the deportation of all Muslims, including American citizens, and yet he was still embraced by, you know, some of the more fashionable wings of the conservative movement.

So this is not -- this is not a side issue for the Republican Party. And going forward, if you have candidates in Arizona and Nevada and others who figure out, hey, you know, the way to get a little bit of celebrity in Bannon world is to engage in this kind of rhetoric. The Republican Party has a real problem -- this is a cancer in the heart of conservative movement in the Republican Party.

HAYES: Are we going to see more think?

MILLER: Yes, I mean, I totally agree with everything Charlie said. And there are more coming. I think you look at Mississippi. You`ll probably have McDaniel running who is essentially the south will rise again kind of guy. Kelli Ward in Arizona is totally extreme and beyond the pale. And I think that people look and see this is the way to win primaries in the party right now. And so it is a major problem. And it is a fight that needs to be had.

To your point earlier, Chris, I just want to respond briefly that I guess my point about how the party is moving is where are these new voters -- where are the voters coming into the party? And if you look at the election, it`s Dubuque, Iowa. You know, it`s Scranton, Pennsylvania. And so, sure, there is some of the old line Republicans as well, but I`m talking about the trends and where the party is going.

HAYES: Yeah, it`s a fair point. Although, a lot of the people haven`t abandoned the party yet. We`ll see.

Tim Miller and Charlie Sykes, thank you.



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