Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 3, 2018 Guest: Philip Rucker Rick Wilson, David Jolly, Nick Akerman, Natasha Bertrand
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.
REID: Donald Trump and Steve Bannon go to war.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, WHITE HOUSE: It's not only not going to get better, it's going to get worse every day.
REID: The President's former Chief Strategist levels explosive accusations in a new book.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the President's son, Donald Trump Jr., commit treason?
REID: Tonight, fallout from Fire And Fury including an irate President.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: I think furious, disgusted would probably certainly fit.
REID: An inner circle describing Trump as an idiot and a dope and an intense Trump family soap opera behind it all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that any of us necessarily got the shy gene.
REID: And as Republicans try to block the release of the Fusion GPS transcripts, why Steve Bannon says the Mueller investigation is, "all about money laundering."
TRUMP: I have no dealings with Russia.
REID: ALL IN starts now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Good evening from New York, I'm Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. According to the author's note in journalist Michael Wolff's new book, Wolff got nearly unfettered access to the Trump White House, taking up what he calls, "something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing." Over the course of several months, Wolff conducted more than 200 interviews, some with senior members of the White House staff. And the result is Fire And Fury, which officially debuts next week but dropped like a bomb on the Trump White House today. More than 300 pages of backbiting, gossip, palace intrigue and on the record quotes billed as an insider account of Donald Trump's chaotic transition from unlikely candidate to even unlikelier President of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Never has there been a president, with few exceptions in the case of FDR, he had a major depression to handle, who's passed more legislation, who's done more things than what we've done. We've achieved tremendous success.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The book tells the story of a candidate who not only didn't believe he'd win but seemingly didn't want to and who instead planned to parlay his new following into his very own T.V. network. It tells the story of a campaign staff with little faith in the candidate they were helping to elect. "The unspoken agreement among them, not only would Donald Trump not be president, he should probably not be." Conveniently the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue. The book tells the story of a team that once it eventually took over the White House was crippled by inexperience, competition and self-interest and a President who lacked the desire or the capacity to do the job for which he was elected. "Trump didn't read. He didn't really even skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all practical purposes, he was no more than semi-literate."
The book is also a tale of treachery. It relies heavily on on the record interviews with Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign Chief turned White House strategist, both former and current chairman of right-wing breitbart.com, who paints himself as the architect of Trump's success and the conduit to his base. Bannon describes the President's inner circle, including his children, as incompetent, naive and essentially un-American. Talking about the now infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals during the campaign, Bannon reportedly said, "even if you thought this was not treasonous, unpatriotic or bad expletive, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately." He later added, "They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national T.V."
Donald Trump responded directly to Bannon in a statement put out under his own name. "Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It's the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books." The White House later confirmed that Trump had continued to communicate with Bannon after he left the White House in August, talking to him as recently as last month. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained what was behind Trump's break with his one-time political guru.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I would certainly think that going after the President's son in an absolutely outrageous and unprecedented way is probably not the best way to curry favor with anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been reported that he was furious when these reports first came out about what Bannon was quoted as saying. Is that an accurate depiction?
SANDERS: I think furious, disgusted would certainly probably fit when you make such outrageous claims and completely false claims against the President, his administration, and his family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I'm joined now by two people who have had a front-row seat to the events described in this book. Philip Rucker, White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post and MSNBC's own Katy Tur who covered the Trump campaign in 2016. Katy, I'm going to start with you. Michael Wolff describes Bannon among other things in this book as an anti-social maladjusted post- middle-aged man who has to make a supreme effort to get along with other people that often did not go well. What would you suspect just form having covered the campaign would be his motive to do so much of this talking on the record about other members of the Trump team?
KATY TUR, MSNBC ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I don't know what's motivated him to go to Michael Wolff, but I do know that Steve Bannon, from those who have been around him, from my interactions with him, from those who are associated with him, Steve Bannon likes to be seen as the evil genius. He likes to be seen as the puppet master behind the scenes. And he wants the credit for it. We can see that on display when he went out and campaigned for Roy Moore, and he stood on that stage for well longer than he was supposed to. I think 45 minutes when he really introducing Roy Moore. He's somebody who wants to be seen as the architect of the success of Donald Trump's campaign. It was failing and it was flailing before Steve came aboard and corrected it. He owns this populist message. He was keeping Donald Trump on track. Without him, Donald Trump's Presidency, which will cater to the rich and do the things that globalists like and nationalists don't like, will go off the rails.
REID: And Philip, does it surprise you that he says in the opening of this book that he was essentially allowed to just wander freely through the White House, listen to any conversation he wanted and essentially people were talking to him and even putting things on the record after they were supposed to be off the record?
PHILIP RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, it's pretty amazing. I talked to a couple sources today about that who said, look, in those early months of the administration, Michael Wolff would have an appointment oftentimes to come in to talk to Bannon who seemed to be the gatekeeper for Wolff, but then he would get access to be able to sort of roam freely in the west wing and wander the halls. He'd pop in in offices and talk to different staffers. He sat out on the couch out in the lobby for a while and he would spent four, five, six hours at the White House just absorbing, and talking to people, and eavesdropping and gathering information. And according to these sources, that this project, cooperating with Wolff was blessed by the President. That he liked Wolff. He had talked to Wolff apparently on the phone for this book that Sarah Sanders announced that today and staffers felt free to talk to him.
REID: And, you know, Katy, what's described in this book essentially are a series of power centers among this team, all constantly climbing over each other and sort of punching each other in the face trying to get to the top. The Javanka set, as they're calling them, Jared and Ivanka, the Bannon side, the RNC side, during the campaign did any of these seem to be directing events or were they all just literally spiraling along?
TUR: No, there didn't seem to be a master plan for the campaign at all. I mean, they were relying on Donald Trump's coercive personality. He knew how to command a room. People liked him. Did they have a master plan on how to get him elected? Not really. They did have a good idea that his message was resonating in the upper mid-west, which it was. But this idea that they went out with this strategy to break through in certain areas is, I think, a little bit overemphasized or it's a little too grand to believe. The competing factions were true in the campaign, they're true in the White House. We know this from all of the reporting we've been looking at and reading in the last year. That is not new. This book does a good job of laying out the warring factions and just how contentious it could be and how acrimonious the relationships were and who was against who, but that is not new.
The question about this book, and it's a fascinating read, I've gotten through a good portion of it, is how accurate is it. I mean, in his author's note, Michael Wolff, Wolff talks about how he talked for a number of people. But these scenes that he describes, it sounds like he's sitting in on them. There are massive quotes, whole conversations that are quotes. My question is how does he know that that was exactly what was said in a lot of those instances. Did he double confirm with all parties involved? Were they recorded and played back to him? It seems kind of farfetched to believe that all of these quotes could come from one source and be accurate. And if that source is Steve Bannon, you have to question the motivation. I'm not questioning the veracity of the tenor of the book, but Steve Bannon does have an ax to grind with Donald Trump and his family and the, "globalists."
REID: Yes, and per the book, might want to be president himself, very odd thing that he might want to do. But you know, Phil, I wonder -- to that very point, so much of this being in quotations, whether or not those were heard first person by Michael Wolff or not, is bound to set off new rounds inside the White House of paranoia. Give us your reporting on how much distrust has this sewn even if the spokeswoman, even if you know, the White House Press Secretary is claiming that it's all made up. What is the state of play now inside that team?
RUCKER: Well, you know, the White House is saying that it's all made up, but they're not litigating the facts point by point that are raised in the book. So we don't actually know which of these quotations are real, what's not real, where the truth is in all of this and that's part of the problem, frankly, sometimes with covering this administration is there are so many different versions of events that different feuding advisers want to put forward that it can be difficult to discern the truth. But in the book as you're reading through the passages, it's gripping. I mean, it's like a novel almost. But the actual scenes are not attributed in the way it would be in a traditional newspaper story in The Washington Post or The New York Times where you know each fact, that you know what's attributed to whom and some information about that sourcing so there leaves a lot of questions.
REID: Well, it sounds like the kind of thing that Donald Trump would like to read from what you're describing. Philip Rucker and Katy Tur, thank you guys for joining me. I appreciate it. And for more on the fallout from this explosive new book, I'm joined by Republican Strategist Rick Wilson and former Republican Congressman David Jolly. Rick, I'll start with you. You know, disloyalty seems to be a theme. You know, I, like Katy, am getting through it as quickly as I can, reading passages from it. It seems at least from this read that no one in this team, no one in the White House team whether during the campaign or now, is loyal to Donald Trump, to each other or to anything other than personal self-aggrandizement. Do you detect anything different?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, when you've got -- when you got a sack full of rats, they're going to eat each other and that's what this White House looks and feels like. These are a whole set of competing factions. You've got the Steve Bannon nationalist, populist, alt-right faction. You've got you know, the anti-immigration guys. You've got the Goldman Sachs guys. And you've got this -- you've got the family business people, the Jared and Ivanka types. So you've got this mix of competing camps and factions and they all combine a sort of baseline personal viciousness, a catastrophic degree of disloyalty in a White House like this.
And you know, frankly, a lot of them aren't terribly bright. So you end up with a guy like Bannon, who is fairly clever, you know, burning the building down after he's been thrown out by people he considers less capable than he. And so I'm not surprised by the disloyalty. But remember, the disloyalty also flows from Donald Trump. This is a guy who will burn anyone to the ground and always expect that they'll come back again later. And look, he's got this on again, off again relationship with people like Roger Stone over the years. I'm sure Bannon kind of feels the same way that you know, if he's useful to Trump, he'll be back at some point and vice versa.
REID: Yes, the weird drama between Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, and Donald Trump as part of this is really just bizarre.
REID: But I want to get to this question of people's sort of self- interests. Because David, you have two narratives that are going on inside this book at the same time. One, that literally no one, including Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, expected him to win or even necessarily wanted to win. They thought they would win by losing and that they would all set up media empires of their own. At the same time, you've got two distinct people who were described in this book as themselves thinking they are presidential material. Let's start with Steve Bannon. According to the book, Bannon was telling people something else that he, Steve Bannon was going to run for president in 2020.
The allocation if I were president was turning into when I am president. Person number two, Ivanka, who was described as an incompetent in the book and going on vacation whenever things get tough is described this way. Jared and Ivanka had made an earnest deal between themselves. If at some time in the future the time came, she'd be the one to run for president or the first one of them to take the shot. The first woman president Ivanka entertained would not be Hillary Clinton, it would be Ivanka Trump. But apparently, then Jared Kushner would get his turn. Your thoughts, David.
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Look, there's so much there, Joy. Listen, this is a perfect snapshot of the dysfunction of today's Republican Party. And while we're focused on Trump and Bannon today, the important thing is this. For my fellow Republicans, you broke it, you bought it. This is what happens when you follow a charlatan. This is what happens when you follow somebody incapable of leading a nation and a party. This is what happens when you follow somebody who is using politics and the White House only for his own fame and to enrich his personal fortunes. Look what happened today. Less than one year in, look at what today meant for the Republican Party. We have a President declaring war probably for the second time on Twitter against a nuclear-armed North Korea.
We have Doug Jones taking the oath of a United States Senator, a Democrat from one of the deepest Republican states in the entire country. We have two senior advisers, forget they're Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., we have senior advisers to the President of the United States accusing one or the other of treason and the president having to distance himself from one of his closest allies. And at the end of this what Steve Bannon has done is also increased his own culpability. This is someone who served on the National Security Council who has trusted with the security clearance, who has suggested that treason occurred in this White House. This is a terrible moment not just for Donald Trump and Steve Bannon but for the Republican Party and it's time we own it.
REID: And you know, Rick, you were giving some amens there, but I mean, is the idea that this -- you know, they have been described by Chris Matthews as sort of the Romanoffs, that this family believed there was a hunger for all of them to run the country in succession, for them to have that kind of arrogance and for Steve Bannon, who most Americans don't know who he is to think the same thing, what is that about?
WILSON: You know, the dynastic fantasies that the Trumps seem to be entertaining and a lot of -- a lot of the folks around them seem to be entertaining is that they'll be a 60 or 80-year uninterrupted succession of Trumps and little Trumps and whatnot slowly taking office at 1600 Pennsylvania. As I said earlier today to someone else, you know, I think it's much more likely that they'll be visiting each other in federal prison than they will be sitting in the Oval Office as the sons and grandsons and daughters and granddaughters of Donald Trump. This is -- the dynastic fantasy is not always something that works in today's modern environment.
And the fact of the matter is you know, love them or hate them, both the Bushes, the Kennedys, the Roosevelts and other dynastic American political families, you know, all brought a little more something more to the table than branding and trying to push their latest hotel venture. So you know, in all these cases, I think it's a Trumpian fantasy, but it also speaks a little bit to the sort of authoritarian nature of the Trump leadership style, which is not small D Democratic and not respectful of the American republic or our Constitution. You know, it's sort of (INAUDIBLE) Trump and so I think we see these folks sort of acting out this fantasy that they can take this job and run with it one generation after the next. But I think it's a pretty unlikely fantasy at this point.
REID: Yes, indeed. Rick Wilson, David Jolly, thank you, guys. I appreciate you both. Happy New Year!
JOLLY: It's good to be with you.
WILSON: Thanks, Joy.
REID: Thank you. And we'll have much more on the explosive details from the book ahead. But first, if you've been wondering why Chris hasn't been here, this morning he and his wife, Kate, welcomed their third child into the world. Meet adorable baby Anya born at 1:02 a.m. weighing in at seven pounds, four ounces, and Anya is already smiling. So cute. Chris gave a special shout-out to all of the labor and delivery nurses and said that Kate was a true superhero and we have no doubt about that. Congratulations and all our love to the new family of five. We'll be right back.
REID: -- the Trump White House, Fire And Fury, Donald Trump's former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon makes some stunning claims about that now infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. The one attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort that promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians. "Even if you thought this was not treasonous or unpatriotic or bad expletive, and I happen to think it's all of that, Bannon said, you should have called the FBI immediately." Bannon also suggested that candidate Trump may have been involved in the meeting. According to the book, Bannon said, "The chance that Don Junior did not walk those Jumos up to his father's office on the 26th floor is zero." Donald Trump has denied having knowledge of the meeting until it came to light a year later.
And the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya tells NBC News that she and her cohorts in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting did not meet or see then- candidate Donald Trump despite Bannon suggested otherwise to Michael Wolff. Veselnitskaya told NBC News, "absolutely not true." But whether or not Trump met the participants that day, did he know about the meeting? And the timeline surrounding that June 26 meeting is actually quite intriguing. On June 3rd, 2016, Rob Goldstone promised incriminating information on Clinton. Donald Trump Jr. responded, if it's what you say, I love it especially later in the summer. On June 7th following several other e- mails to each other, Donald Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone agreed to the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower. On the evening of June 7th, a Tuesday, candidate Donald Trump promises a major speech on the Clintons and their supposedly nefarious dealings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you're going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Two days later, the June 9th meeting takes place at Trump Tower. But Don Junior now claims the Russians didn't bring the dirt they promised on Hillary Clinton. MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and former Special Watergate Prosecutor and Natasha Bertrand is a Political Correspondent for Business Insider. Thank you, both for being here. Natasha, I'll start with you. On page 255 of the book, there's the claim that it might have been Jared Kushner who actually leaked the details of that Trump Tower meeting where this supposed exchange of dirt on Hillary Clinton was supposed to take place in order to save himself and sacrifice Don Junior. Does that comport with your reporting, does it make any sense?
NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: It makes sense given that it was actually Jared Kushner's fault that the entire Trump Tower meeting was discovered in the first place. His lawyers had actually handed over the e-mails that was forwarded to Kushner before the meeting took place talking about you know, how Goldstone had reached out to Donald Trump Jr. saying that he had this Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton. Those e-mails were given to the Congressional Committees and it was only just -- it was discovered by his lawyers and they figured, hey, we really have to -- we figure we should probably disclose the fact that Kushner met with this Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. So it makes sense if he wanted to get ahead of it and throw Don Junior under the bus, which it seems like Steve Bannon has also been really eager to do. So now, it's interesting to see Steve Bannon is then throwing everyone under the bus.
REID: And in terms of the question of not the meeting but the cover-up of the meeting or the explanation of the meeting, you then fast forward to this effort on Air Force One, while aboard Air Force One with Donald Trump to explain this meeting. Here is what it says from the book. The President insisted that the meeting in Trump Tower was purely and simply about Russian adoption policy. That's what was discussed, period. Hence the official story. There was a brief courtesy meeting in Trump Tower about adoption policy to no result and that is what they said that's what all it was. However, later that week, Mark Corallo who was the spokesman for Trump's legal team quits saying no good outcome and privately confiding that he believe the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice. He quits. Is it possible that in concocting that story that it was adoption, which we know is Magnitsky Act related, that that is obstruction?
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Yes, it is obstruction and there's a good reason why they did it. Because part of your timeline that you didn't include was in March of 2016, the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, was hacked. The e-mails were taken out. Then in April of 2016, Papadopoulos learned that the Russians had those e-mails. Now, you can't tell me for a second if he's telling some Australian diplomat in a bar what he learned from the Russians that he didn't tell the campaign the same thing.
AKERMAN: So we know a crime was committed. The only question is, did the Trump campaign conspire with the Russians in order to throw the election to Donald Trump. And all of the evidence here, all of the indications indicate the answer is yes. Because if you look at the timeline even after Donald Trump said he was going to release this information that following Monday, a few days later, you see the information being released by Guccifer 2.0. and then another week later more information by Guccifer 2.0, and then a few days later more information by Guccifer 2.0.
And then on July 22nd, the day before the Democratic National Convention, bang, WikiLeaks releases more of that information. And who is the person that's communicating with both Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks? Roger Stone, Donald Trump's main political operative. So to me, if you look at the overall picture and the overall timeline, you clearly have a conspiracy to basically steal the e-mails from the Democratic National Committee in order to throw the election to Donald Trump. You've got lots of indications that somewhere in this process the Trump campaign joined that conspiracy.
AKERMAN: They didn't have to agree with the Russians at the time. If I'm the campaign and you're the Russians, we don't even have to talk. I mean, I can just talk to Natasha who's representing WikiLeaks and basically if they all come to the same agreement, the goal being to steal those e-mails, to use them to elect Donald Trump, that's enough and it's a conspiracy to violate the federal computer hacking law, which is the computer fraud and abuse act and that's where I think all of this is going.
REID: Well, the provision of taking something of value from a foreign -- from a foreign entity to the campaign but you know, here's the other thing because also Roger Stone is Paul Manafort's former business partner which is also intriguing. The question then becomes, Natasha, whether or not all of these individuals are separately seeking dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of e-mails. George Papadopoulos saying, we think the Russians will have dirt on Hillary Clinton. The son, Donald Trump Jr., saying the same thing and then going to that Trump Tower meeting with Manafort and Kushner but no one ever talking to each other. Just -- from your reporting, could it be possible that all of these individuals were atoms that were each seeking the same thing, e-mails, but no one was communicating above the chain of command?
BERTRAND: No. That's what we were expected to believe but there is absolutely no way that Donald Trump Jr. who tells his father everything and always has, from my own reporting and others reporting it's been made very clear Donald Trump Jr. in business, in life in general, he always went to his dad for everything, was not telling his father about this very important meeting that he apparently was anticipating for a long time at Trump Tower that where his father was on that very day. I think this is something that goes overlooked, is that Trump himself was at Trump Tower on June 9th and he was there supposedly around the time that this meeting occurred.
So, for Trump to not -- as Steve Bannon said, for Trump Junior not to have walked up to his father's office and briefed him on this meeting or even for Paul Manafort or Jared Kushner to not to tell him anything happened is totally implausible. And the same kind of goes for Roger Stone. You know, Roger Stone took on a very limited role in the campaign after late 2015 and there was this whole idea that perhaps he wasn't talking to Trump as much or wasn't as involved but again that's something that the campaign really wanted everyone to think because Roger Stone is a kind of very abrasive, controversial figure. But the fact of the matter is, is that Roger Stone and Donald Trump have known each other for years and Roger Stone and Paul Manafort are very close. So there was definitely a lot of communication going on.
BERTRAND: And according to my reporting, it's much more extensive than we think.
REID: Drip, drip, drip. Nick Akerman and Natasha Bertrand, thank you guys very much. I appreciate it.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
REID: And coming up, the firm that assembled the infamous dossier told Congress that they found evidence that raised questions about money laundering while researching Trump. Something Steve Bannon says he warned the President about. More on that after this quick break.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Mueller was looking at your finances or your family finances unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: One of the many remarkable claims in Michael Wolff's new book is Steve Bannon claiming he tore into Donald Trump for that comment to The New York Times. Quoting Bannon, I went right to him and said why did you say that? Why did you say it was off limits to go after your family's finances? You may not like it, but you just guaranteed if you want to get anybody else in the special counsel slot every Senator will make him swear the first thing he's going to do is come in and subpoena your expletive tax return. Banner reportedly added about Mueller's probe, you realize where this is going; this is all about money laundering. Why Trump might be worried about Mueller digging into his infamously opaque finances, do you ask?
In a dramatic new osier in the New York Times, the founders of Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned the Steele Dossier writes that they've told members of Congress that quote, "We've found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array or Dubious Russians. An arrangement that often raised eyebrows about money laundering."
But the public hasn't seen that evidence because republicans in Congress refused to release the transcripts from their 21 hours of testimony on Capital Hill. When we come back, I'll speak with a lawmaker who was in the room for that testimony about just how worried the White House should be, that's next.
REID: Months of attacks from republicans, the founders of the firm that commissioned the Steele Dossier are hitting back. Allegedly (congressionary) republicans are systematically ignoring and suppressing evidence to keep the public from learning the truth about potential collusion between Donald Trump and Russia.
Fusion GPS cofounder, Glenn Simpson, a former journalist, has spent more than 21 hours testifying behind closed doors on Capital Hill. The republicans refuse to release a transcript of what he aid. Even if they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right. As Simpson and cofounder Peter Fritsch write in a new abed, republicans and the President have worked feverishly to try and cast the dossier is false and in doing so discredit the entire Trump, Russia investigation.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier, it's made up and I understand they paid a tremendous amount of money. I think it's a disgrace, it's just really - it's a very sad commentary on politics in this country.
REID: Now the dossier but, not all of it has been proven. It's certainly not fake parts of it have been corroborated. In fact, the Fusion GPS founders write that quote our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because the corroborated reports that the bureau had received from other sources. They also write that they charged Christopher Steele with looking into why Trump repeatedly thought to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state.
And that quote, what came back shocked us. It also seemed to shock Steele, a former British intelligence officer who went to the F.B.I on his own in an effort to address what he saw as a crime in progress. And joining me now is Representative Joaquin Castro a Democrat of Texas and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which interviewed Glen Simpson for nearly seven hours in November.
And Congressman thank you for being here, we know that Republicans including from the various committees in the House and Senate have been selectively leaking parts of the testimony of these two gentlemen from Fusion GPS to Right Wing media outlets. Why then do Democrats not just release the entire 21 hours of testimony?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Well, I've said from the beginning very consistently and others have as well that all of this or as much of this as possible; including the interviews with the witnesses should be made public and should be done out in the open. And so if Democrats had the power to make some of these things public than we very likely would.
Unfortunately, as you know we're in the minority party in Congress and so that requires the permission of the chairmen and of the Republican majority. So far they've been unwilling to release the transcript of Fusion GPS and of course other witnesses.
REID: So, the ranking member, for instance of the House Intelligence Committee does not have the authority to on their own release the transcripts; Republicans are already doing it. They're just doing it through selective leaks.
CASTRO: Yes, no it's my understanding that our ranking member Democrat Adam Schiff from California doesn't have the unilateral authority to release that transcript, that's right.
REID: So, here are some of the questions that have come up. From the op- ed from this Fusion GPS cofounders; they said that this - they're following up potential money laundering. Is it from the op-ed, this is from the op- ed.
We suggest that investigators look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump's businesses. Congress appears uninterested in that tip. Reportedly ours are the only bank records the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed.
That sounds like persecution of two witnesses that were brought before the committee. Is there anything that the minority can do on that committee to stop the majority, the Republicans from essentially subpoenaing the bank records of their witnesses rather than of the Trump campaign?
CASTRO: Well, what we can do is win in the 2018 elections, take back the House of Representatives and then do a thorough investigation starting next January. But until then a lot of this requires the cooperation of the chairman and of the Republican majority. And they've - I guess the fault that I find there is that sometimes they've been unwilling to go down certain investigatory roads that I believe that they should go down.
I think many Americans; if they were able to listen to the testimony of Glen Simpson from Fusion GPS, would be very troubled about a lot of the things they hear. And some of this - a lot of this has been made public already.
And so, of course I can't talk about what I heard in the interview, but I can tell you that my impression after sitting through those hours of that interview is that the President should be concerned about issues of money laundering, of collusion and of obstruction of justice. I say that - that's my impression; not only from hearing that witness, but also many of the other witnesses that have come before the committee.
REID: Do you.
CASTRO: So, this White House should be nervous about what has been told to the committee.
REID: .and do you believe, while you said you can't necessarily tell us exactly what you heard in those hearings. Do you believe that you heard evidence of crimes committed by members of this administration?
REID: And if that is the case, do you believe that your Republican colleagues understand those to have been crimes, potential crimes?
CASTRO: I can't speak to their understanding and quite honestly I think some folks have decided to just bury their heads in the sand. I've heard the line again and again that there was no collusion for example. But you know there's three investigations going on \here, at least three; the Mueller investigation, the House, the Senate, and then actually the senate judiciary so four. But the only person with prosecutorial powers is Robert Mueller and so for the house and the senate it's a matter of collecting all the facts. Figuring out who may have been responsible for cooperating with the Russians, who interfered with our 2016 election.
And then making recommendation to make sure that this doesn't happen again. Of course we can go out and prosecute anybody but we also want to make sure that we're following all the leads that come up from information that's given to us in these interviews. And a big concern that I have is that there's not been enough resources or energy or time that's been committed to tracking down the leads that are being given to us.
CASTRO: That's a big concern and if this investigation raps up with in a month or two then I'm fairly confident we will not have followed all those leads that we should be following.
REID: Wow, Representative Joaquin Castro. Thank you very much for being with me, appreciate it.
CASTRO: Thank you.
REID: Thank you. And still to come, details from the new book about the people closest to the president. Who call him an idiot and a dope, more on that a head. Plus something particularly Trumpian about a source quoted in a New York tabloid, thing one, thing two starts next.
REID: Thing one tonight. If you believe what you read in the page six section of the New York Post, we may have an idea of what special counsel Robert Mueller's rangery(ph) looks like. Reporter Richard Johnson who has covered Trump forever attended several of his weddings and judged one of his beauty pageants, wrote about a witness who recently testified before the panel and allegedly claimed it quote "Doesn't appear to include any supporters of President Donald Trump."
According to Johnson's source there was only one white male in the room and he was a prosecutor. The source also claimed that 11 out of the 20 people on the grand jury are black. Which of course isn't surprising because nearly half of D C residents are also black. The source also editorialized to Johnson, "Maybe they found these jurors in central casting or at a black lives matter rally in Berkeley."
Central casting, now where have I heard that phrase used before.
DONALD TRUMP: He was central casting. -no but there central casting --, - - no but there central casting--, -- these are central casting--, -- no your central casting--, -- any a central casting do we agree--, --central casting, do we agree? Central casting.
REID: Wait. Could Donald Trump be Page Six's anonymous source? That's thing 2 in 60 seconds.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) REID: So an anonymous source tells "The New York Post" that special Counsel Robert Mueller's grand Jury is mostly black and suggests it cannot, therefore, be fair to Trump. According to the Page Six source, maybe they found these jurors in central casting or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley, California. But as Think Progress points out, there's someone else who really likes using the phrase central casting. The person anonymously leaking racist attacks on the Mueller grand jury sounds a lot like Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was central casting. No, but they're central casting. These are central casting. No, you're central casting. And he is central casting. Do we agree? Central casting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: President-Elect Trump said repeatedly he wanted people from central casting.
TRUMP: He's like central casting for ownership of a hotel. And he's central casting. Look at that guy, central casting. You couldn't get better central casting. They're like central casting. That's called central casting border, right? I was like central casting.
REID: Think Progress goes on to note that the reporter, Richard Johnson, has had a long history with Trump. Last month he even wrote about his life with the Donald. The best evidence may be Trump's own track record. Remember when Trump used to be his own publicist going by the name of John Barren or John Miller and calling up tabloids to brag about himself? Like in 1991 when his marriage with Marla Maples was ending.
(TRUMP?): He treats everybody well. You don't know him, but he's a -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: No, I have met him. (TRUMP?) Have you met him? He's a good guy and he's not going hurt anybody. The one article said he was going to throw her out of the apartment is total nonsense.
(END VIDEO) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
REID: ... pattern in Michael Wolff's new book on the Trump Presidency in which the people closest to Donald Trump describe him as someone in no way capable of carrying out the duties of the presidency. In the book Wolff writes about the feelings of Trump's campaign advisers. Quote, not only would Trump not be President, almost everyone in the campaign agreed he should probably not be. Once Trump assumed office, even his own Administration mocked his intelligence. Quote, for Steven Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was "idiot". For Gary Cone he was "dumb as expletive". For HR McMaster he was a "dope". The list went on.
With quotes in e-mail, whose author isn't confirmed, that appears to sum up sentiment in much of the White House. "It's worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won't read anything, not one page memos, not the brief policy papers, nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored".
Even the man who owns Trump TV thought after Rubert Murdock and then President Elect Donald Trump spoke by phone during the transition. He had a instinct reaction. Wolfe writes, "what an expletive idiot said Murdock shrugging as he got off the phone". But these reactions should be no surprise. Similar quotes from administration officials have been leaking for months. In October NBC News reported about the Secretary of State's feelings when after a July 20 meeting as the Pentagon, Rex Tillerson had openly disparaged Trump, referring to him as a "moron".
Busby reported in November that national security advisor HR McNaster (ph) doesn't think much better of him. Trump quote - a top national security official dismissed the president of the United States variously as an "idiot" and as a "dope" with the intelligence of a kindergartener. So everyone knows Trump isn't up to the job, why doesn't anybody say, Trump's cabinet, or the Republicans in charge of congress, doing anything about it? We'll discuss that and what it means for the midterm elections this year, next.
REID: Fire and Fury, a new book about the White House confirms much of what has already been reported about Donald Trump. That he has an alarmingly short attention span, a volatile temper and a distinct paranoid streak. And is generally unfit for the job of the President of the United States. What the book highlights is that even people in Trump's inner-circle share that view. What then will Capitol Hill do about it? And what can the American people do?
McKay Coppins is a staff writer at the Atlanic, Barbara Boxer is a former United States Senator from California and the founder of PAC For A Change. And I'll start with you senator.
You know, speaking earlier with a member of congress, with Joaquin Castro - - Congressman Joaquin Castro. He essentially talked about the fact that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committees and all these committees investigating the Russia interference are -- are -- are completely hamstrung, they cannot truly compete these investigations because Republicans won't let them.
And are in fact, leaking against their own investigations. Is it time for Democrats to be explicit to the American people that only way to get to the bottom of Russia-gate (ph) and to have governance at you know, at least we'll hold Trump accountable, is to elect Democrats and give them the House representatives on the Senate?
BARBARA BOXER, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, it's quite obvious, we've got one party rule everywhere. And we now know what people closest to Donald Trump think of him and it's ugly. It as it gets. And I'm concerned about the attacks on the press, calling them the enemy of the people, that phrase comes right out of Nazi propaganda and communist propaganda.
Enriching himself, calling on the justice department to jail his opponents. There's only one way to check and balance him, and that's 2018, that's the election. We need to fight against that and we need to be positive in what we want to do for the American people in terms of education, and job training, and health care. And really at protecting Medicare and social security, which the Republicans are going after.
REID: But is that -- is that too complicated a message? I mean, a much a simpler message is to say Trump is dangerous, elect us.
BOXER: Well I just didn't give you -- I didn't give you a message. I gave you the reality. I think messaging is not what we need. We need to say, we need to check and balance this president, yes. And we also need to fight for the people.
This is about the people. We have a narcissistic president who doesn't care about anyone but himself. This country has to be given back to the people, it has to serve the people. So yes, we'll come up with a pithy message but believe me, there's got to be some substance behind it. We tried that message before, stop Trump. There's something wrong with him and it didn't work.
REID: And McKay, on the other side of that, surely Republicans on Capitol Hill can see what's happening and yet you have, John Thune today, a reporter Haley Byrd tweeted today that -- Reporter Byrd asked Thune what he thought of Trump's nuclear button tweet. And it's Trump being Trump is -- was the answer he got back. And this is Lindsay Graham who was quite critical of Donald Trump, said he was unfit to be president during the campaign. This is Lindsey Graham of late.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) S.C.: I think we need a special counsel to investigation the Fusion GPS episode between the democratic party, Mr. Steele and Russian operatives. I think we need a special counsel to investigation the uranium one episode for thousands of dollars given to Clinton Global Fund and to former President Bill Clinton from groups tied to Russia.
REID: We have Bob Corker, who said the White House was an adult daycare center. Now, he's all for Trump. Is there any sign that Republicans have any intention to hold Donald Trump accountable for anything, no matter what he does?
COPPINS: Well, you do hear some republicans, Senator Jeff Flake among others who will speak out against him. And even, you know, take him to task. But look, I mean, the deal that Republicans on Capitol Hill made from day one of Trump's presidency was we're going to look other way on all the outrageous, outlandish, provocative, crazy stuff that he does on Twitter and in real life. And we're going to send him legislation and he's going to sign it into law.
And that's -- that's the deal. They wanted to push forward their legislative agenda, take advantage of this very rare moment where the party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. And they were willing to put up with a lot, to stomach a lot to get that done. And look, frankly, you know, if you talk to Republicans on Capitol Hill today, they'll say that was worth it. We just passed a major tax reform bill that we've been wanting to pass years, even decades in some cases.
And -- and that was because we put up with a bunch of nonsense from the White House. You know, if you look at it from purely partisan standpoint, that's what Republicans in Congress wanted and they're getting what they wanted. And I think that's why you're not seeing the mass defection of Republican lawmakers from a very unpopular and relatively volatile president you might expect in other circumstances.
REID: And how far is that going to go? I mean, he's threatening nuclear war and joking about it on Twitter.
COPPINS: Yes, I don't know. You have to ask them. I mean, look I think that this is not even the first time the president has joked about nuclear war on Twitter.
REID: That's true. Very true. Indeed. McKay Coppins, Barbara Boxer, thanks you guys for joining you us. Appreciate it. Thank you. That is All In for this even. The Rachel Maddox show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.