Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 5, 2018 Guest: Mickey Edwards, Lynn Sweet, Sam Nunberg
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Senior advisers, family members, every one of them questions his intelligence and fitness for office.
REID: "Fire And Fury" is released.
MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, FIRE AND FURY: Let me put a marker in the sand here, 100 percent of the people around him.
REID: The Author of the book the President doesn't want you to read is speaking out for the first time.
WOLFF: I will quote Steve Bannon "he's lost it."
REID: Tonight, the full interview with "Fire And Fury" Arthur Michael Wolff.
WOLFF: I work like every journalist works so I have recordings.
REID: Then, my interview with the former Trump adviser who called the President an idiot and a fool.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trust me, I'm like a smart person.
REID: Plus, the growing case for obstruction as the Justice Department opens a Hillary investigation.
TRUMP: Lock her up is right.
REID: And what we're learning from "Fire And Fury" about how Trump T.V. is actually producing the Presidency.
TRUMP: Fox And Friends are so great.
REID: ALL IN starts now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Good evening from New York, I'm Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. On this day in history, the President of the United States tried to stop a book about him for from being published and he failed. This book, "Fire And Fury" went on sale this morning and it's already sold out in bookstores around the country. In Washington, people lined up at midnight Harry Potter style at one bookstore to get their hands on a copy on a night when temperatures there dropped below zero.
According to store owner, "Fire And Fury" sold out in about two minutes flat. And it wasn't just in Washington, the book sold out all over the country, in places like Lubbock, Texas, and Kenosha, Wisconsin. They're sold out of "Fire And Fury" at the Barnes & Noble in Anchorage, Alaska. It's out of stock online at Target and Walmart and good luck getting one of these babies in New York City.
Luckily MSNBC has had our advanced copies for a couple of days. The book was originally supposed to be published next week but that was moved up to today after the President threatened legal action against author Michael Wolff and his publisher to try and block the book from being released. Donald Trump did not want the American people to read "Fire And Fury" which portrays him as mentally incapable of carrying out his job as President, an assessment, according to the book, that the entire White House staff agrees with.
Last night, on the eve of publication, Trump took to Twitter to attack Wolf and one of his main sources, former Donald Trump Strategist Steve Bannon. "I authorized zero access to White House, actually I turned him down many times for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist. Look at this guy's past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve." Sloppy Steve. In an exclusive interview with NBC News this morning, Wolff credited one Donald J. Trump for the book's early success and we're going to play that entire interview for you right now.
GUTHRIE: The book is published as of 9:00 this morning. The President's lawyer sent a cease and desist letter threatening legal action against you and the publisher which-to-which you say --
WOLFF: They sent that yesterday before they actually had read the book, but actually what I say is where do I send the box of chocolates?
GUTHRIE: You think he's helping you sell books?
WOLFF: Absolutely. And not only is he helping me sell books, but he's helping me prove the point of the book. I mean, this is extraordinary that a President of the United States would try to stop the publication of a book. This doesn't happen -- has not happened from other presidents, without not even happen from a CEO of a mid-sized company.
GUTHRIE: Well, the President obviously as you know, tweeted about you last night. He says "I authorized zero access to the White House." Actually turned you down many times, said he never spoke to you for the book, it's full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist. So it's got a place to start as any. Did you talk to the President?
WOLFF: What was I doing there if he didn't want me to be there?
GUTHRIE: Well, let me ask you, did you talk to the President? Did you interview him for this book?
WOLFF: I absolutely spoke to the President. Whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don't know, but it certainly was not off the record.
GUTHRIE: And you spoke to him at the White House after he was sworn in?
WOLFF: I spoke to him after the inauguration, yes, and I had spoken to -- I mean, I've spent about three hours with the President over the course of the campaign and in the White House. So my window into Donald Trump is pretty significant. But even more to the point, I spent this -- I spent -- and this was really sort of the point of the book, I spoke to people who spoke to the President on a daily, sometimes minute-by-minute basis. So this book was really -- I mean, in a sense -- in a sense, there was one question on my mind when I began this book. What is it like to work with Donald Trump? How can you work with Donald Trump? And what is the -- how do you feel having worked with Donald Trump?
GUTHRIE: And I want to get to the substance, what you've written in the book in a moment. But just to clear this up because the President is saying it's full of lies, that you didn't have the access you said you had.
WOLFF: You know, I think one of the things we have to -- have to count is that Donald Trump will attack, he will send lawyer letters, this is a 35- year history of how he approaches everything.
GUTHRIE: Do you have recordings of some of these interviews and some of these conversations?
WOLFF: Well, I work like every journalist works so I have recordings, I have notes, I am certainly and absolutely in every way comfortable with everything I've reported in this book.
GUTHRIE: Would you release any of those recordings since your credibility is being questioned?
WOLFF: My credibility is being questioned by a man who has less credibility than perhaps anyone who has ever walked on earth at this point.
GUTHRIE: Before I leave it, I will say the President -- is the tweet alludes to "your past." It says -- I assume referring to a profile about you in 2004 in The New Republic. The reporter said of you the scenes in your writing aren't recreated so much as created springing from Wolff's imagination rather than actual knowledge.
WOLFF: You know, I've written -- I've written many books, I've written millions upon millions of words. I don't think there has ever been one correction.
GUTHRIE: So you stand by everything in the book, nothing made up?
WOLFF: Absolutely everything in the book.
GUTHRIE: Let's talk about the book itself because one of the overarching themes is that, according to your reporting, everyone around the President, senior advisers, family members, every single one of them, questions his intelligence and fitness for office.
WOLFF: Let me put a marker in the sand here, 100 percent of the people around him.
GUTHRIE: Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, Ivanka Trump question his fitness for office?
WOLFF: Every time I -- and I want to be careful about who I spoke to because the nature of this kind of book is you kind of grant everyone a veil. But having said that, certainly Jared and Ivanka in their current situation -- which is a deep legal quagmire -- are putting everything on the President. Not us, it's him.
GUTHRIE: And what are some of the ways the President was described to you by those closest to him?
WOLFF: You know, I will tell you the one description that everyone gave. Everyone has in common. They all say "he is like a child." And what they mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification. It's all about him. I mean, this letter for -- this cease-and-desist letter, I mean, I still have sources in the White House and I know everybody was going "we should not be doing this, this is not smart." And he just insists. He just has to be satisfied in the moment.
GUTHRIE: You said that these senior people insult his intelligence. What are the kinds of things people would say?
WOLFF: They say he's a moron, an idiot. Actually, there's a competition to sort of get to the bottom line here of who this man is. Let's remember, this man does not read, does not listen. So he's like a -- he's like the pinball, just shooting off the sides.
GUTHRIE: One of the more disturbing observations you make in the book is that the President's close advisers, people around him, have noticed him repeating stories expression for expression you say within a short period of time.
WOLFF: In a shortening period. So they've all tracked this that it used to be -- I know people would point out that in the beginning, it was like every 25 or 30 minutes you would get the same three stories repeated. Now it's the same three stories in every ten minutes.
GUTHRIE: And what's the suggestion there? Because that goes beyond saying OK, the President is not an intellectual. I mean, what's -- what are you arguing there? You say, for example, that he was at Mar-a-Lago and didn't recognize lifelong friends.
WOLFF: I will quote Steve Bannon, "he's lost it."
GUTHRIE: Let's talk about Steve Bannon, because here's somebody who was on the record with you, made some pretty bold assertions, as you mentioned, has disparaged the President, and yet now in the last couple days say "he's a great man and nothing can separate us." What's Bannon --
WOLFF: Well, I want to make one. I mean, the President has tried to put this. This book is about Steve Bannon. So let me -- let me say very forthrightly. This book is not about Steve Bannon, this book is about Donald Trump. As for Steve Bannon and I spoke to Steve as I spoke to many people throughout the length of the reporting here and really saw a transformation, not only of Steve but of everyone. But Steve in the way is most vivid or his language is the most vivid. And the transformation was you know, we thought this Presidency was -- could work, we thought Donald Trump is an interesting, unique character and we might be able to do something here and they saw him over that time come to the conclusion he cannot do this job.
GUTHRIE: I am out of time but your former Editor at Vanity Fair Graydon Carter said he wasn't surprised you'd written the (INAUDIBLE) book, he was surprised they let you in the door at the White House. Are you surprised?
WOLFF: You know, I -- no, I'm a nice guy, I go in --
GUTHRIE: Did you flatter your way in?
WOLFF: I certainly said what was ever necessary to get this story.
GUTHRIE: Michael Wolff, thank you for being here.
REID: For more on the fallout from this explosive new book, let's bring in former Congressman Mickey Edwards, Republican from Oklahoma and Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. Mickey Edwards, Congressman, I'm going to go to you first. Michael Wolff says every single person in Donald Trump's White House and in his orbit questions his fitness. He says the description they all share is that he is like a child. What does it say about them that none of these people have stepped forward in all of this time to say that we shouldn't have helped this man be president and he shouldn't stay president?
MICKEY EDWARDS, FORMER OKLAHOMA CONGRESSMAN: Joy, that's the real question here. So, if you believe that the people who are around him actually thought -- despite all the evidence -- believed that this man could be president, that he had the intelligence, had the integrity, had the judgment to be able to be president of the United States you could understand why they might support him.
But the fact that they worked for him, they tried to help him get elected, they're helping him now in the White House when they believe he's a juvenile, they believe he's a moron and he is day by day threatening the United States, issuing threats to the leader of North Korea, talking about nuclear war and these people are enabling him, look, it's not just about what's wrong with Donald Trump, it's about what's wrong with these people that Michael talked to, these people who helped prop him up, those people who defend him. I mean, it's their problem too.
REID: Yes, actually and Lynn, you know, to that point they are continuing to defend him in a rather oblique way. This is Sarah Huckabee Sanders doing that today -- yesterday. This is her attempt to defend Donald Trump against what's said in this book.
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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: If he was unfit he probably wouldn't be sitting there and wouldn't have defeated the most qualified group of candidates the Republican Party has ever seen. This is an incredibly strong and good leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I mean, Lynn, that sounds like Donald Trump's self-defense that he won and therefore nothing can be true because he won. But to my knowledge, no one has actually refuted the facts in this book. Have you, just in the reporting sense, heard anyone actually refute any of the specific facts in the book?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The most telling, Joy, is that Steve Bannon has not come out and said that he didn't say it, it didn't happen that way, my quotes are distorted. So that is something worth thinking about when you look at the book. And one other thing, just because he won doesn't mean that the critics who were out there about his state of mind don't have something to say. One doesn't preclude the other.
REID: And you do have in the White House, Congressman, at the time that the White House sort of got up and running, two very close allies of Paul Ryan who were in place, including the Chief of Staff who one would presume knew that there was a reporter wandering around the White House talking to whoever he wanted to and of course, the Press Secretary Sean Spicer, they are allies, long-time allies of Paul Ryan. So one wonders what Paul Ryan knew about Donald Trump, yet this is the way Paul Ryan talked about Donald Trump of December 20th of this -- just before Christmas.
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REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: Something this big, something this generational, something this profound could not have been done without exquisite presidential leadership. Mr. President, thank you for getting us over the finish line. Thank you for getting us where we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Congressman Edwards, Mitch McConnell is described in this book as believing that the reason they have Donald Trump there, whatever his faculties are "he'll sign whatever we put in front of him." Is that what we're seeing here? Is it that cynical?
EDWARDS: Well, yes. But look, I'm glad grow brought this up, Joy. So we have a problem with the President, we have a problem with the people around him. We have a problem in Congress. So the founding fathers understood something like this could happen, that's why they put most of the power of the federal government in the Congress.
They did not envision that someday we would have a Paul Ryan and a Mitch McConnell who cared less about the country than they did about their party, who were willing to sell out the principles of their party, the values that they've always proclaimed themselves in order to prop up, shore up a man like Donald Trump because it helped them get their agenda passed. So there are a lot of Republicans I tell you like myself who support parts of this agenda. We're Republicans, we support a lot of what Republicans are trying to do, but not at this cost to the country. And Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are every bit complicit in what is happening right now.
REID: Yes, and you know, reportedly now, Lynn, Axios is reporting that several members of the White House staff now want to leave, more than a dozen. This is Axios reporting. More than a half-dozen of the more skilled White House staff are contemplating imminent departures. Many leaving are quite fearful about the next chapter of the Trump Presidency. Does that say to you that people are afraid they're going to have to lawyer up because of the Mueller investigation or that they're abandoning ship having now admitted to themselves that he never should have been there?
SWEET: Well, in terms of the legal jeopardy, some of them were in. Even if they leave, they still might face questions from the Mueller investigation. So they're not off the hook just because you quit and you're still subject to being called in because they might be witnesses or had been part of an e-mail chain or some other kind of communication that is important in establishing some facts. Now people quitting is another matter. This is a chaos presidency. You can't even figure out how you might want to get things done if you want to do things in an orderly way because President Trump doesn't want to do things in an orderly way. So if you're a staffer, you might say "I don't want to put my reputation on the line if I can't see getting things achieved."
Now, yes, I know that President Trump has achieved something, the tax bill, no matter what you think of it, and he has rescinding all kinds of Obama orders, but that's easy, by the way, just signing papers that take away something instead of adding something, which is why these next few weeks are so important and I think may determine if people decide to stick around. We have a budget, you have a deal on immigration, maybe, maybe not, and you have a state of the union. So I think if people are going to leave, this is the easy time to leave. January 20th, I said I'd stay here a year, now I'm leaving.
REID: Yes, well, we will see that. (INAUDIBLE) should be interesting with all of this information. Mickey Edwards and Lynn Sweet, thank you, both.
SWEET: Thanks, Joy.
EDWARDS: Thank you, Joy.
REID: All right, do not go away. Up next, I will talk with one of Donald Trump's former campaign aides who is quoted in "Fire And Fury" as calling Trump an idiot and who described an unbelievable scene when he was sent to explain the constitution to the then-presidential candidate. He joins me right here in two minutes.
REID: The White House has spent a lot of energy this week trying to debunk the new book "Fire And Fury". Here it is again. It's about the Trump administration. Trump himself called the book "full of lies, misrepresentations, and sources that don't exist." But the book is full of on-the-record quotes and anecdotes from people in Trump's inner circle.
Many of them insulting and mocking him. In one example, former campaign aide Sam Nunberg is talking about Steve Bannon but manages to work in a putdown of Trump. "If you can get this idiot elected twice, Nunberg marbled, you would achieve something like immortality in politics." And the aforementioned Sam Nunberg joins me right now. Thank you for being here.
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Thank you, Joy. What a nice introduction.
REID: Let me give you a couple of some other things that you said here. There was an expert that was published in the Hollywood Reporter yesterday that you who you're fired during the campaign but you were credited with knowing him longer, knowing him better than anyone else except maybe Omarosa, came back in the fold and said widely, "He's just an F-ing fool." If he was an F-ing fool, why did you help get him elected President?
NUNBERG: Well, Joy -- OK, so Joy, first of all, Donald Trump -- and I've been thinking about this because I've had a lot of interviews -- it's not that he doesn't know what he doesn't know, it's that he knows what he doesn't know but he doesn't care.
REID: He doesn't care that he doesn't know. He doesn't --
NUNBERG: He doesn't care. And he was right in terms of the campaign when I worked for him. So for instance, when we go to the constitution issue --
REID: Let's go to that so people know what we're talking about. This is from page 16 of the book, I have it open here and from page 16 --
NUNBERG: Did you like this book by the way, have you read it or just the exerts?
REID: As you can see, I've not only read it but I've --
NUNBERG: I know you have. I saw you from afar. By the way, I want you to know, Joy has read this book.
REID: OK. So this is the quote from you and this is when you were sent to explain the Constitution to then-candidate Trump "I got as far as the fourth amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and eyes are rolling back in his head." How far did you get through the Constitution with Donald Trump?
NUNBERG: Well, OK. So first of all, I think -- and this is where I'm not criticizing Michael. And I've met with Michael --
REID: Michael Wolff.
NUNBERG: Michael Wolff. Michael Wolff the author. I sat with him around three or four times. But the point was that, Joy if you can remember you were covering the race. My candidate, the guy I was working for decided to go to Scotland four days before the first debate and was trying to get in - - I was trying to get in gotcha questions.
REID: OK, but the question is --
NUNBERG: But, he has a granular level of the Constitution.
REID: Does he understand what's in the Constitution? How far did you get through the Constitution? You're saying --
NUNBERG: So I got through gotcha questions. So that's where Michael is not clear on the book.
REID: OK, you're saying that you did not call him an idiot and he was not- -
NUNBERG: No, no, no. I probably have called him an idiot. I probably have called him an idiot. By the way, Joy, he's probably called my much worse.
REID: OK, but you're not President of the United States, Sam. Let's go to the next thing. You say in the book as well "Trump a good person, an intelligent person, a capable person" asked Sam Nunberg, Trump's longtime political aide. I don't even know, but I know he's a star."
NUNBERG: Yes, and --
REID: Do you -- hold on -- do you believe -- this is a citizen that somebody who you think of is an idiot, who doesn't have time to sit with you and learn what's in the constitution and who you just said, knows that he doesn't know but he doesn't care. Is that person fit to be President?
NUNBERG: OK, so first of all, I'm not here -- I'm not here to dissect. It was -- in terms of the Constitution --
REID: No, no. Let me just answer my question. Is someone who doesn't care that they're --
NUNBERG: Yes, he's completely qualified to be president.
REID: And what qualifies him to be president?
NUNBERG: What qualifies him? First of all, he was elected. First of all, he won --
REID: OK, but that's the same answer Donald Trump did.
NUNBERG: (INAUDIBLE) the electoral votes.
REID: Do you stand by the idea he's a fool?
NUNBERG: Do I stand by the idea that he's a fool? You know what, he is a fool sometimes. He's frankly a very big fool sometimes.
REID: Do you question whether or not there's some impairment there? I want to --
NUNBERG: No --
REID: Hold on.
NUNBERG: I do not question his mental impairment.
REID: I want to let you listen to Donald Trump speaking at CIA headquarters the day after the inauguration. I want you to listen to this, please.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have some great people going in but this one is something, going to be very special, because this is one -- if I had to name the most important, this would certainly be perhaps -- you know, in certain ways you could say my most important. You do the job like everybody in this room is capable of doing, there can be -- and the generals are wonderful and the fighting is wonderful, but if you give them the right direction, boy, does the fighting become easier and boy do we lose so fewer lives and win so quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: He was supposed to be talking about the CIA.
NUNBERG: Yes, but --
REID: Hold on, hold on. If you read the entire quote of what he says, he meanders all over the place. Michael Wolff described him as somebody who's mind is like a pinball. He can't stay on one topic at one time. Are you telling me --
NUNBERG: By the way he can. By the way, he can.
REID: But he just didn't there. So do you think that there's some impairment?
NUNBERG: No. I do not think that there's some impairment.
REID: You do not think that there's some impairment.
NUNBERG: I do not think that there's some impairment. And in fact, by the way, Joy -- I like -- by the way, Joy, I like that look you give me. Even when he was saying that there, he's not fundamentally wrong. Look --
REID: About what? He said about 18 different things.
NUNBERG: Joy, let me finish, please. Joy, let me -- he -- from my perspective, OK, from my humble perspective, and I'm not a Fox News -- I'm not a Fox News watcher, I'm not a radio listener.
REID: OK, come to your point. Come to your point.
NUNBERG: My point is that he unleashed the cuffs on the military to destroy ISIS.
REID: OK, that's not what he's saying. Let me ask you one last question.
NUNBERG: No, no, no. That is -- no, no, no. That is what he was saying. That is what he was referencing.
REID: OK. You spoke at --
NUNBERG: Yes, -- buy Joy, he's a complete pain in the ass to work for. Joy, he's terrible to work for.
REID: My last question to you -- my last question to you, Sam Nunberg. Who gave -- how did you come have to talk Michael Wolff?
NUNBERG: OK. So that's a good question.
REID: Who gave him -- who gave him that access?
NUNBERG: So Michael Wolff became an ally of Roger Ailes once Roger Ailes was fired from Fox News. And Michael -- Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon from my understanding formed an alliance to help belittle or stop Rupert Murdoch's influence on Trump.
REID: And when you spoke to Michael Wolff, who -- at whose behest did you do that?
NUNBERG: I don't do it on anybody's behest. I did -- Michael invited me.
REID: Michael invited you to speak to him. All right. Well, Sam Nunberg, thank you for making the time.
NUNBERG: By the way, I like Michael and I'm not disputing anything Michael quoted me on. I'm just saying it's sometimes just a little out of context.
REID: All right, all right. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time. Thank you. And just ahead, amidst pressing questions about Trump's fitness for office, Republicans are taking extraordinary measures to protect him. The ridiculous stuff they tried to pull today just after this.
REID: Michael Wolff's new book portrays a President who's seen by pretty much everyone around him as incompetent, childish and unable to absorb basic information. Even before the book, Trump had repeatedly staked out authoritarian and undemocratic positions, increased the odds of nuclear war with grade school taunts and been credibly accused of obstruction of justice and possibly much more.
Republicans in Congress have responded to all of this not by trying to contain or even remove this President but instead by ginning up ridiculous fake scandals designed to destroy Trump's enemies and protect their dear leader at all costs. The latest comes from senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham, members of the Judiciary Committee that's supposed to be investigating possible Trump/Russia collusion.
Well, today after nearly a year of investigation, they made their first criminal referral. But it wasn't against any of the people accused of possible crimes. Instead, they went after the man who sought to expose those crimes, Christopher Steele, a former intelligence officer with America's closest ally, Britain.
The author of the Trump Russia Dossier that Republicans continue to decry as false even as portions of it have been corroborated. The Senators offered no evidence of wrongdoing by Steele but said they delivered a classified memo to the Justice Department laying out their case. To describe that case as flimsy would be generous.
A source told NBC News the Senators flagged inconsistent comments Steele made about the timing of his discussions with journalists but that they are not alleging that Steele intentionally misled federal law enforcement. Plus it would appear that the Senators were sending information to the Justice Department that it already had in its possession.
That's almost like the whole thing is just a publicity stunt to appease the President and to provide fodder for Trump T.V. Speaking of which, with Trump having spent months demanding yet another federal investigation into his former political opponent Hillary Clinton, we now have new reporting that the Justice Department -- that the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions is following orders. The absurd details right after this.
REID: See if you've heard this one before? The justice department is yet again investigating Hillary Clinton. New report says that under Jefferson Sessions the department has launched a new inquiry into the Clinton Foundation though an official told NBC News the investigation "Has been going on for months." Nick Merrill a Clinton spokesman called the investigation a disgraceful shame. One designed to distract from the incitements guilty pleas and accusations of treason from Trumps own people.
The news follow last night bomb shell New York Times report that one of Sessions aids had asked a congressional staffer for damaging information about James Comey in an apparent attempt to discredit the former FBI director. A source telling the Time that the attorney general wanted one negative article a day in the news media about Mr. Comey. The justice department disputes the account.
With me know to unpack all of this is former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of the center for advancement of public integrity at Columbia Law School, and MSNBC justice and security analyst Matt Miller who is chief spokes person at the department of justice under president Obama.
Thank you both for being here. I want to start with the last thing first. Normally I would do ladies first but I want to go to you on the Matt because you've been tweeting a lot about this. The idea - what would have been the reaction - let's put it this way-could you have - that you would have anticipated on the right if during his 10 year, the former Attorney General Eric Holder or Attorney General Loretta Lynch were to solicit dirt on James Comey to try to discredit him while he was investigating Hillary Clinton?
MATT MILLER, JOURNALIST: I think we'd have had subpoenas in our inboxes the next day and they would've been asking fro the Attorney General to be up on the hill the day after that. They would have been justifiably outraged. I think - this report, I think causes two big problems for Jeff Sessions.
One is a creditability problem and one is potentially a criminal problem. on the credibility side, this will send shock waves to the department of justice's report. The career people there, for them to see that the attorney general, the person who is lead of the department, is supposed to protect employees was actually soliciting information that he could use to publicly harm, publicly denigrate the head of the FBI, the very popular inside the FBI director, I should add.
That will really destroy his inability to lead a department that was already hurt by his unwillingness to defend them against the president's attacks, that's his creditability problem. On the criminal side, this could actually bring him into the obstruction of justice inquiry that we know Bob Mueller is conducting.
All you have to do to be charged with obstruction of justice is to enter into a conspiracy and take one overt act to further that conspiracy. This very well could be the overt act if Bob Mueller were to find that he was doing this to help lay the ground work by publically harm Jim Comey to lay the ground work for his firing.
REID: And, Jennifer, you have, particularly this book, the more you read it and some of it is things that we kid of already knew a little bit that are being brushed out more so we already knew that Donald Trump was infuriated by the idea of Jeff Sessions refusing himself in the Mueller probe. Per the book that he expected Jeff Sessions to quote protect him.
And then you have following on that, the New York Times reporting that Sessions may have responded to the anger of the President of the United States by going ahead and affirmatively trying to investigate one of his former political rivals and to try to smear the FBI director.
You're a former federal prosecutor, have you ever heard a set of circumstances like that coming out of an attorney general of the United States.
JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well no, of course there's so many scenarios here that we've never heard of. I mean, this is the person who's supposed to uphold the rule of law and if you can't look to your attorney general, who can you look to and it's a department that's already under attack from the president so to have the leader of that department doing things like this, it sort of in a way harkens back to when we had the U.S. attorney scandal with Alberto Gonzales went down for and that was just really politicizing the office.
This is even many steps worse than that so if those things are proven to be true then I think Jeff Sessions has a real problem on his hands and should resign.
REID: Just stay with me for just a moment, let's g to the Hillary Clinton supposed investigation. Hillary Clinton left office as secretary of state in 2013, she has not been in office all of that time.
The idea of reopening an investigation on her foundation, the source of the information of which came form Clinton Cash, a book that was written by Steve Banon's partner that lands in the New York Times that is full of fictions about Hillary Clinton and conspiracy theories. Can you foresee a circumstance where it'd valid to go back and to investigate her based on that?
RODGERS: Well, there's a statute of limitations in place, right? Its five years for most crimes so chances are that anything that was done that was criminal, the statute has likely run anyway. Congress does have oversight of the FBI; I think it's not inherently problematic for congress to ask in an oversight rule for something to be reviewed.
I do put the trust in the career people of the FBI for them to have done the investigation right the first time and for the crew people of the justice department who reviewed it to say, look, we did this by the book the first time, nothing has changed, we review it per some bodies request but nothing changes here so I'm hopeful that that's the result here because certainly there's no additional information or anything that seems to have some to life since then.
REID: Right and hopefully that the career people will not be interfered with by the political people obviously have an agenda to help Donald Trump. And back to you, Matt, to this question of actually trying to investigate Christopher Steele. As we know Great Britain is the strongest ally that the Untied States has every had.
The idea, what do you make of this notion that you have republicans, senators, people who were foreign policy hawks like Lindsey Graham are essentially saying, we want him investigated because he's hurting the president.
MILLER: Well look, they're very obviously trying to silence a whistle blower, trying to get him to stop talking, trying to tell other people who might be witnesses who would come forward to talk about what Donald Trump might have done. To tell them that we will go after you and to urge criminal prosecution for you when there's no justification for it.
Look, on the merits of this, this is such an odd thing for the congress to do. I can't think of another time when the congress has referred something for prosecution that was not an act that happened for the congress. For example, usually, if the congress refers something, it's because there's evidence that you've lied to congress. Same as the EPA doesn't refer to the justice department someone who's committed a tax time, that's not the way things usually work, it's a bizarre thing for them to have done, it is so transparently political.
I think it's the kind of thing people can see right through and what the really disappointing thing is Lindsey Graham was very honest about Donald Trump during the campaign, was very open and honest about what a threat he thought he would be to the country. And something has happened to him where he's now singing Donald Trump's praises publicly and he's trying to undermine and attack this investigation. It's incredibly disappointing move by him and Chairman Grassley. REID: It does beg the question why. You're right, there's not been a bigger turn than Lindsey Graham who has become Donald Trump's chief attack dog in the Senate. Very interesting turn of events. Jennifer Rogers and Matt Miller, thank you both for being here, appreciate it.
And coming up, he doesn't just live tweet Trump TV, it's where he gets his information and advice. The symbiotic relationship between Trump and his favorite network ahead.
Plus, the Trump anecdotes that are stranger than fiction. Tonight's thing one thing two starts next.
REID: Thing one tonight. Some of the accounts coming from Michael Wolff's book have been pretty unbelievable, such as this passage about Trump's evening routine "if he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then more to his liking he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger watching his three screens and making phone calls." No one has denied the President is in bed with burgers at 6:30 and not too many people seem to doubt it, either, because it seems to ring true for some reason. Which brings us to this excerpt that was going around the internet today. A fake passage supposedly from the book which a lot of people fell for because, well, perhaps it rang a little bit too true. "On his first night in the White House President Trump complained that the TV in his bedroom was broken because it didn't have the gorilla channel.
To appease Trump, White House staff compiled a number of gorilla documentaries into a makeshift gorilla channel broadcast into Trumps bedroom. Staff edited out all the parts of the documentary where gorillas weren't hitting each other and at last the president was satisfied. Not to clear, that's not real the author of the twitter handle facilitated(ph) boat(ph) even changed his twitter display to reassure the interwebs by changing the name the gorilla channel thing is a joke.
But there may be a reason that that story would ring true because of the true story that is Thing two in 60 seconds.
REID: A whole lot of people on the internet were fooled by a parity story today about the white house creating a special fighting gorilla TV channel for Trump to watch in bed. The faint detail that staff edited out of the documentary where gorillas weren't hitting each other had a word ring of truth for some people I suppose or maybe it just sounded familiar.
Note this little true tidbit buried deep in this New Yorker profile of Donald Trump from 1997. When Trump and writer Mark Singer were aboard his private jump Trump was playing movies on the VCR and got quote "bored with the movie Michael." That's the one where John Travolta plays an angel and switched to an old favorite the 1988 Jean Claude Van Damme slug fest called Bloodsport.
Then the future president made his son Eric skip passed the boring parts of the firm. All the talking parts so that he could just watch the fight scenes. Coat(ph) assigning to his son the task of fast forwarding through all the plot exposition. Trumps goal being to get this two hour movie down to 45 minutes. He eliminated any louse between the nose hammering, kidney tenderizing and shin whacking.
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JOY REID: document and that the president of the United States many of morning watching Fox and Friends and live tweeting his responses. For instance on his first day back at the white house after his Christmas golfing vacation Tuesday morning. Fox and Friends ran a story about Hillary Clinton's former aid Humma Abedin and soon after that Trump tweeted about crooked Hillary and Humma Abedin.
Fox and Friends posted a factoid about zero commercial jet debts in 2017 and Trump tweeted that it was just reported that zero death's in 2017. And of course he took credit for it. In fact on Tuesday morning alone according to political Matthew Gurts, it appears that Trump issued five consecutive tweets based on Fox's programming though he specifically referenced Fox and Friends in only one of them.
That is where the president of the United States gets his information. But what we're finding out from Michael Wolff's, Fire and Fury is that the symbolic relationship between Trump and Fox News goes much further than we knew. The book described the dynamic between Trump and 20 Century - 21st Century Fox's executive chairman Rupert Murdoch "Trump would brag that Murdoch was always calling him. Murdoch for his part would complain that he couldn't get Trump off the phone."
We're talking to Gabe Sherman about the unprecedented between Trump and Trump TV next.
REID: What's extraordinary about the relationship between Donald Trump and Fox news is the extent to which Fox News is not just entertainment or an information source for the man of the white house. But it also serves as both a influencer and the defacto mouth piece for the president. It's not just that Trump is watching Trump News and tweeting about it.
He reportedly gets policy advice from Fox News host like Jeannane Purio(ph) and Shawn Hannity who has dined with Trump at the white house. In fact Trump has granted few major interviews to anyone other than Shawn Hannity ever since that devastating interview with NBC's New's own Lest Holt.
Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury even says that Hannity gave Trump a preview of the questions, though Hannity denies it. Gabe, this is the book everyone is talking about, obviously, everyone is reading it. I'm reading it and taking lots of notes. It is extraordinary the way it describes Donald Trump's relationship with both Ails and Murdoch. It seems he was friends with Ails first but then he seemed to sort of almost worship Rupert Murdoch.
GABE SHERMAN, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT FOR "VANITY FAIR"": Yes, I mean cleary he, he worshipped Rupert Murdoch's power and its influence. Donald Trump, if not anything, is a media person and Rupert Murdoch is the most powerful media mogul of his generation. The interesting point I take away from a lot of this and based on my reporting as well, is that Donald Trump -- Rupert Murdoch is not the head of Fox News. Donald Trump is for all intents and purposes, the executive producer of the network. And so the way the segments at Fox News are largely programmed are that producers are putting things on the air that they hope will appeal either to Donald Trump or Donald Trump fans, so they are programming for an audience of one.
REID: And to that very point on page 223 of this book, Sean Hannity, this is Sean Hannity. The scene is Sean Hannity is on his way to Roger Ails' funeral when Hannity felt that Fox News might oust him or that he might quit. And this is what it says in the book. "Ruminating out loud, Hannity said he would leave the network and go work full time for Trump because nothing was more important than that Trump succeed in spite of himself. Hannity added laughing." There's a worship of Trump among the staff at Fox. Is that driven by, you know, what they think their viewers want or something else?
SHERMAN: It's clearly a ratings decision. I mean rewind to the 2016 campaign when Megan Kelly was one of the lone voices critical at Fox News. Producers saw the ratings go down. Any time you put anything on the air that didn't help or praise Donald Trump, the viewers react by changing the channel. So this in many ways a business decision. Sean Hannity is one of the most influential media figures in America because he's hitched himself to Donald Trump.
REID: Yes and there is the other side of it, which is Rupert Murdoch, the head of the company has nothing but destain for Donald Trump. Page 197 of the book, in the past month, Roger Ailes, a frequent Trump caller and after dinner advisor has all but stopped talking to the President piqued by the constant reports that Trump was bad mouthing him as he praised the newly attentive Murdoch. This was Ails who had before the elections only ever ridiculed Trump. So it seemed that before the election, Murdoch had nothing but distain for Donald Trump.
SHERMAN: Oh yes, clearly, Rupert Murdoch is a main stream republican. He was champing the 2013 Immigration Reform Bill. All of Rupert Murdoch's policy positions are at odds with Donald Trump. And he only came around to Trump after it was clear he would win the GOP nomination and he made a strategic business decision that's it's better to be on the right side of the guy than wrong side.
REID: Yes, and Sam Nunberg who was a Trump defender who was in an interesting mood tonight and was on earlier and one of the things he did say is that there was a split, that there was a Brannon-Ails sort of partnership and a Kushner-Murdoch relationship and that's part of how Michael Wolff got the access, he went through the Brannon-Ails kind of side. Does that ring true to you?
SHERMAN: Yeah. It does clearly, all my reporting indicates that Jared has an open line to Murdoch and expands to Matt Drudge. If you've noticed that the Druge report the report is very anti Brannon and Kushner-Murdoch Drudge access is one center of power and then you had the Brannon and when Ails was alive, Brannon, Ails, Breitbart as another access. REID: Is part of what you see in that kind of dichotomy a kind of fear of Breitbart as a younger audience version of Fox News and the idea how we have an opportunity to stamp it out.
SHERMAN: Yes, again, without question. You know Fox News was late to the party and they were in many ways out flanked by a lot of energy in the conservative media was in places like Breitbart and Mike Cernovich, and others in the alt right and they made a decision that we need to get on board because this is where the right wing movement is going.
REID: And how is Fox dealing with the book?
SHERMAN: Hannity has stayed out of it. He has not taken sides in the Brannon-Trump fight because he is close to both men.
SHERMAN: I mean they're really caught in a pickle here.
REID: Yes, daddy and daddy are fighting. Whose side are they going to -- so the question is, are they even covering it? Because how do you not? This is the biggest book in America right now. People are ling up for it like an iphone. SHERMAN: Yes, I mean Fox really has a way of creating an alternate reality until they can't and they have done this with Mueller. And so they will wait until they have to cover it and frame it in a way that is as beneficial to Donald Trump as possible.
SHERMAN: So I wouldn't be surprised for them to start attacking Michael Wolff, attacking the credibility of the anonymous sources in the book, things like that.
REID: Wow, it's fascinating to see them try to decide whose side they will be on since they are always on Donald Trump side. Gabe Sherman thank you very much, by the way. I mentioned that Matt Gertspy (pf) in political earlier is actually a senior fellow at Media Matters for America which watches all this stuff closely. That is All In for this evening. Good night and
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