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"Very Stable Genius" Transcript 1/8/18 All in with Chris Hayes

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, Natasha Bertrand, Gordon Humphrey

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 8, 2018 Guest: Richard Blumenthal, Natasha Bertrand, Gordon Humphrey

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- the country of Donald Trump. It`s the country`s democratic principles that need to get back into power, don`t you think? And that`s why I`m here, and that`s what HARDBALL is for. Thank you for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, if Robert Mueller asks you to come and speak with his committee personally, are you committed still to doing that?

REID: Mueller time is coming.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just so you understand, just so you understand, there`s been no collusion. There has been no crime.

REID: NBC News exclusive reporting, Donald Trump may face questions from Robert Mueller in a matter of weeks. Tonight, why Trump`s lawyers are trying to avoid a face to face showdown. Then as the self-described very stable genius pours gasoline on Fire And Fury --

TRUMP: Well, only because I went to the best colleges or college.

REID: Why Republicans are suddenly rallying around Trump. And about that Oprah speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This sounds like political presidential talk to me.

REID: New reporting that Oprah Winfrey may consider a run for president.


REID: And why that`s not such a crazy idea.

WINFREY: Oh my goodness, at last, I`m here!

REID: ALL IN starts now.


REID: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. Well, it`s full speed ahead in the Russia investigation. New reporting tonight that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may want to sit down with Donald Trump, perhaps in the next few weeks for an on-the-record interview in the ongoing Russia probe. The scope of Mr. Mueller`s probe is reportedly vast, ranging from financial dealings to obstruction, to potential conspiracy with the Russian government. The President`s lawyers are trying to limit the scope of the inquiry. The Washington Post reporting tonight, Trump`s lawyers are reluctant to allow him to sit down for open-ended face-to-face questioning without clear parameters.

As NBC News first reported, in addition to seeking to limit the scope of any interview, sources say the President`s team is seeking potential compromises that could avoid an interview altogether including that the President submit written responses in place of an interview but only perhaps to certain questions. The source tells The Wall Street Journal that Trump`s lawyers have discussed only providing written responses to queries that are "appropriate and respectful of the office." Mueller reportedly informed Trump lawyers, John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, last month that he may soon seek the interview, and he plans to sit down with Trump`s legal team again soon to hash out the details.

Now, if you represent Donald Trump, an interview by Robert Mueller is pretty much your worst nightmare. For starters, Mueller is highly unlikely to provide the questions in advance, something author Michael Wolff claims in his explosive new book that Fox News` Sean Hannity has been all too happy to do, though Hannity denies it. Such a request would not only be terribly -- would not be terribly surprising. The last time Trump sat for any kind of an adversarial T.V. interview was all the way back in May when he sat down with NBC`s Lester Holt and effectively implicated himself in obstruction of justice.


TRUMP: What I did is I was going to fire Comey -- my decision. It was not --

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: You had made the decision before they came in the room?

TRUMP: I was going fire Comey. There`s no good time to do it, by the way.

HOLT: Because in your letter, you said I accepted -- I accepted their recommendation. So you already made the decision.

TRUMP: Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.


REID: During an impromptu media availability over the weekend, Trump was asked if he would be willing to sit down with Mueller.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, if Robert Mueller asks you to come and speak with his committee personally, are you committed still to doing that?

TRUMP: Just you understand, just so you understand. There has been no collusion. There`s been no crime. And in theory, everybody tells me I`m not under investigation. Maybe Hillary is, I don`t know, but I`m not. But there`s been no collusion, there`s been no crime. But we have been very open. We could have done it two ways. We could have been very close and it would have taken years. But you know, sort of like when you`ve done nothing wrong, let`s be open and get it over with because honestly, it`s very, very bad for our country. It`s making our country look foolish. And this is a country that I don`t want looking foolish. And it`s not going to look foolish as long as I`m here. So we`ve been very open and we just want to get that over with.


REID: Mueller`s move comes amid a very public and fairly unprecedented debate over the President`s mental capacity. Trump sought to squelch the debate over the weekend in a pair of tweets in which he insisted that "my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart," adding that he went from very successful businessman to top T.V. star, to President of the United States on my first try, saying I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius and a very stable genius at that. A reporter asked Trump why he felt compelled to send those tweets.


TRUMP: Well, only because I went to the best colleges, or college. I went to a -- I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out, made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, wen to television and for ten years was tremendous success as you probably have heard, ran for president one time and won.


REID: Joining me now is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation -- which is investigating potential collusion. And Senator, let`s start with this question of Donald Trump going before Robert Mueller. In your view in terms of being a former Prosecutor and being on the Senate Judiciary Committee, what power does Mueller have to compel testimony from the President?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: First, joy, that`s a great question. There`s no question that Robert Mueller will want to sit down face-to-face with Donald Trump and Donald Trump has no choice because what Mueller can do is well established by the United States Supreme Court precedent. In the tapes case, as it`s known, the United States versus Nixon. At that point, special prosecutors subpoenaed Nixon`s infamous tapes in a prosecution of seven of Nixon`s staff. And the United States Supreme Court said the president is not above the law. He has to comply with a subpoena and a generalized assertion of privilege cannot overcome that obligation. And as a result, by the way, four presidents since then have sat down before a grand jury or in interviews. Three of them in a grand jury, Presidents Clinton and Ford and the president who sat down before with a -- with a prosecutor was Bush. But all of them complied, and all of them recognized they have an obligation.

REID: And if Donald Trump were to sit down for interviews with Robert Mueller, would or could the tapes of those depositions and interviews ever become public or be handed over to your Committee?

BLUMENTHAL: They could well become public. In fact that, they should become public and at some point, they would become public. The only question is one of timing, just as the details of the interview are not whether but when the President would be interviewed.

REID: And what about this question that we`re seeing in some of our reporting here on NBC News and The Wall Street Journal and other places that the President`s lawyers are attempting to shift the questioning to be in writing and to have questions submitted in advance. Is that something you could ever foresee happening?

BLUMENTHAL: I am hard put to think that the Special Counsel would agree to simply put questions in writing because he`s want -- going to want to test the recollection of Mr. Trump. He`s going to want to ask follow-up questions and probing inquiries if and when he denies we`re calling something. There are a whole set of questions that will be spawned by the answers that the President may give. And that`s the nature of the interrogation. And it may be viewed by the President as interrogation, but it`s just questioning at this point that will occur.

REID: I have to ask you while I have you here. There have been attempts by some of your colleagues on the other side of the aisle to shift the inquiry in the direction of Fusion GPS, to try to -- in the words of the founders of Fusion GPS -- solicit their bank records and to essentially interrogatory them and then Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent, including criminal potential referral that was made by members of the United States Senate, people like Lindsey Graham. What do you make of that effort and is there anything that Democrats could do to release the 21 hours of Fusion GPS testimony to the various congressional committees?

BLUMENTHAL: We`ve asked for that testimony to be released, the interviews that Glenn Simpson have provide Senator Whitehouse and I specifically asked for disclosure today, because that interview is the only possible new source of incriminating evidence. And there is no evidence of criminality in those interviews relating to Christopher Steele. Sadly, the first major action by the Republican leadership on the Judiciary Committee is aimed at someone who reported wrongdoing rather than committed it. In fact, Christopher Steele blew the whistle on Russia. He told FBI that Russia was in effect attacking our democracy with collusion by the Trump campaign. And now, the effort is in effect to divert attention from the real goals of our committee and maybe discredit the FBI. The real goals of our committee ought to be Russian collusion and attacks on our democracy, collusion by the Trump campaign with that Russian attack and potential obstruction of justice.

REID: And very briefly, lastly, do you expect more indictments? You`ve indicated that you might and can you elaborate very quickly on that?

BLUMENTHAL: At some point early in the New Year, I think there will be more indictments, and very likely also convictions because Robert Mueller is doing his work methodically and meticulously and he will use every tool at his disposal. He is already in possession of knowledge that we don`t have from public source. I have no inside information. But I would expect the evidence that he has gathered so far and as well from cooperation from Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos who have been convicted to provide a basis for convictions and indictments going forward.

REID: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

REID: All right, and with me now are Natasha Bertrand, Political Correspondent for Business Insider and MSNBC Political Analyst Tim O`Brien, Executive Editor of Bloomberg View and Bloomberg Gadfly, and Author of the book Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald. I`m going start with you, Tim. You`re in the -- an enviable position of being one of the few people to whom Donald Trump`s threats of a lawsuit were actually followed through on. Now, he sue you`d over your biography of him over claims of his wealth. And talk a little bit about how that went because you wound up being able to depose him. So can you anticipate what deposing him might be like?

TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t think he is going to have a good experience. You know, we deposed him a decade ago. He was ten years younger. He was in a room with three of my attorneys. They were all veterans, including Mary Jo White, former U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York. They essentially -- you know, over the course of two day, they just stripped the bark off of him. As New York -- the Washington Post and others have written, he lied about -- or was forced to admit he had lied about 30 different things during the course of that deposition. Everything from how much he was paid for speakers fees, to how much money he got from his father, to how much -- how much land he actually owned in New York. It was every facet of sort of the Trump mythology came into play. And he didn`t perform well. He doesn`t have a good memory. He doesn`t prepare, and he`s not a good witness.

REID: And we have some video here. And this is a different deposition. This is not the your -- the deposition in the 2007 case that you did. But this was in the case of Jose Andres and another -- and another Chef who Donald Trump sued because they pulled out of deals to put restaurants in his hotel. If we can take a little bit of a look at that.


TRUMP: I have. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- that you know the drill?

TRUMP: I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the notice of your deposition.


REID: And so I wonder if in a deposition situation like the one that you went through, did Donald Trump in your view prepare for the deposition?

O`BRIEN: No, I don`t think he prepares for anything. And that`s why he`s a -- that`s why he`s a dangerous and unpredictable client. He also creates these myths in his head about how things are going to go. I think any time Donald Trump is on T.V. saying there is no collusion, or Robert Mueller is proceeding in his investigation in a certain way we should basically discount that to zero because he has no idea.

REID: Yes, did he try to charm your attorneys?

O`BRIEN: Of course he actually tried -- he said he wanted to hire my attorneys after the litigation was done. So that is one route he follows.

REID: And so Natasha, let`s talk a little bit about the White House and sort of their state of mind around Donald Trump right now in anticipation of potentially going before probably some of the best prosecutors in the country because Mueller has assembled pretty much an A-list team according to Steve Bannon. Some of them are akin to LeBron James, at least one of them is. How worried are White House staff about Donald Trump in such an interview?

NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: They`re clearly extremely worried. And all you have to do is look at the past month of the sustained attacks on Robert Mueller by the President`s allies in Congress and the media to see that. They`re really, really worried that Mueller himself is getting really, really close to Trump`s inner circle, and now as we learn this morning, Trump himself.

You know, it really kind of sheds new light on the effort to kind of put the focus on people like Christopher Steele with the criminal referral that we saw last week, Fusion GPS with their bank records, the attacks to discredit Robert Mueller because of some FBI agents who exchanged texts during the election, you know, expressing kind of disdain for President Donald Trump -- for then-candidate Donald Trump. So this last month of kind of the sustained attacks not only on Mueller but on the FBI really are -- you can view them with new eyes, now that we know that Mueller is planning an imminent interview with Trump.

REID: And could it -- are you hearing any feedback that perhaps members of the Trump team are concerned that the attacks on Mueller, the attacks on Comey, the attacks on the FBI will actually make the interview harsher?

BERTRAND: Absolutely. There`s definitely a concern that Trump`s tweets, for example, about how he has been tweeting a lot about. For example, he was tweeting about James Baker, the former General Counsel. He was tweeting about FBI Director -- Deputy Director Andy McCabe last month, you know, casting doubt on whether or not he was politically motivated because his wife had received campaign donations back in 2015. So there -- this is not just Mueller that the President -- that the President`s allies have been attacking, it`s also the FBI broadly and the FBI is a very proud institution. So when anyone kind of throws dirt on them, they come together and they get -- you know, they feel very personally insulted. So this is definitely not something that is going to help the President`s case when he goes in front of Mueller. You know he is not likely to forget that, you know, that Trump has been launching these very sustained attacks on the bureau.

REID: Yes, and Tim, you know, one of the sort of narratives in Fire And Fury, in the book that is so outraging the White House is that Donald Trump not only doesn`t want to prepare but that he gets really bored and angry when anyone seems professorial. Can you anticipate how would his team even prep him for these interviews? They`re not going to be in there with him. Ivanka can`t go with him.

O`BRIEN: His lawyers could be in there with him. But the reality is --

REID: But staff can`t.

O`BRIEN: But the staff can`t be with him. And typically, when you prep for a deposition or a series of interview like this, there are binders of material that you go through with your client prior to sitting down. It requires the client to be engaged, to be detail-focused, to be interested in reading, to be able to retain information, everything Donald Trump doesn`t do.

REID: Yes, and would the lawyers -- well, I guess we`re out of time. I would love to talk with you for another hour but Tim O`Brien, that is the time. And Natasha Bertrand, Tim O`Brien, thank you guys both for your time. I appreciate.

BERTRAND: Thanks, Joy.

REID: All right, and ahead, the speech and the speculation. Why people lost their minds at the prospect of Oprah running for president. But first, why top Republicans who once called Trump an unfit bigot, and a man in need of adult day care are now bending the knee. That`s next.



MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, FIRE AND FURY: Everybody in this White House and I keep saying this 100 percent, because it is 100 percent of the people closest to the President, to Donald Trump believe that there is something wrong here, something fundamentally wrong, something that scares them.


REID: Michael Wolff`s explosive new book Fire and Fury has ignited for the first time a public conversation about whether Donald Trump has the mental capacity to do his job. But the more evidence mounts of his essential unfitness to be president, the more Trump`s political allies rally around him. In fact, the more obsequious they become. And that includes some of his toughest critics on Capitol Hill. In 2016, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made no secret of his distaste for Donald Trump.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He is a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn`t represent my party. He doesn`t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.

I`m not going to try to get into the mind of Donald Trump because I don`t think there is a whole lot of space there. I think he is a kook. I think he`s crazy. I think he`s unfit for office.


REID: Well, more recently, Senator Graham has become the President`s golf buddy. And after Trump spent the weekend defending his basic intelligence and mental stability, describing himself as a "very stable genius," Senator Graham explained his change of heart.


GRAHAM: He beat me like a drum. He ran against 17 Republicans and crushed us all. He ran against the Clinton machine and won. So all I can say is you can say anything you want to say about the guy. I said it was a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot. I ran out of things to say. He won. Guess what? He is our President.


REID: We`ve seen a similar about-face from Senator Bob Corker, arguably the President`s fiercest Republican detractor who famously referred to the White House as an adult day-care center. It was just a few months ago that Corker sounded alarms about the President`s behavior on a remarkable on- the-record interview with The New York Times.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Sometimes I feel like he`s on a reality show of some kind, you know when he`s talking about these big foreign policy issues. And, you know, he doesn`t realize that you know, that we could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comments that he is making.


REID: Well, since then, Corker and Trump have patched things up, to say the least, and reportedly began talking on the phone in recent months. And today, there was Corker, joining the President on Air Force One for a chummy little trip to Corker`s home state of Tennessee. Gordon Humphrey is a former two-term Senator from New Hampshire, and he is never Trump Republican. Thank you for being here, Senator. And I want to play you what Omarosa Manigault who is a longtime friend, former Apprentice contestant said about Donald Trump. And this was in a Frontline documentary about him running for president.


OMAROSA MANIGAULT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It`s everyone who`s ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.


REID: Is that enough just becoming the President of the United States? Is that enough in your view to have cowed all of these Senators who have gone from Trump critics to Trump fans, in some cases just in the last eight weeks?


REID: Yes. Why do you suppose so many United States Senators have done exactly what Omarosa said they would do, bow down?

HUMPHREY: Yes, well, the office of President has a lot of charm, I suppose. But I think what you`re underscoring here is that we really must depend upon the Vice President and the cabinet ultimately to come to a conclusion that this President is incapable of responsibly and prudently and even sanely discharging the offices and duties, the powers and duties of the office, and that his powers should be transferred to the Vice President. I don`t think it`s going to happen in Congress but the constitution gives the cabinet that authority as well. And I hope one of these days we`ll see one cabinet member show the courage to take the leadership to unburden the nation of this president who is mentally unbalanced.

REID: But, sir, with all due respect, if there is anyone that has been completely servile towards Donald Trump, it is the Vice President and the cabinet. You see them going around the room, praising him, he`s been gazing up at him as if he was the sun god as he was described, as he thinks of himself in Fire and Fury in Michael Wolff`s book. The cabinet has been completely supine. Have you seen any evidence that any of them would stand up for what you`re saying and try to put a stop to this presidency?

HUMPHREY: Well, you`ll recall that Secretary Tillerson is alleged and apparently made the statement that the President is a moron. Surely that thought is shared by a great many -- by a majority of the members of the cabinet. We have a government of regents at the moment overseeing an imbecilic, infantile president and that has -- that has to end. We need a real president. The cabinet must act and devolve the powers to the Vice President, as soon as possible.

REID: And yet Rex Tillerson said he`s happy to stay on. He too was doing glowing interview, lauding Donald Trump just this past weekend and say he plans to stay on and continue to serve him. And when you go back to the members of the United States Senate, I mean, this is a coequal branch of government. And I think it`s perplexed a lot of people to see really powerful Senator, people like Lindsey Graham who`s not up for immediate reelection, Bob Corker who`s retiring, he`s leaving, he`s a very wealthy man. There`s nothing Donald Trump can do to Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker, and yet the servility continues. I mean, can you relate as a former Senator yourself to the way that these men are behaving? And they didn`t do it right after the election when you might expect them to say, well, he won, I`m going to be with him. They`re literally making this change within the last few weeks.

HUMPHREY: Well, I find it especially disappointing in Republicans because by covering for the president, making excuses, running interference for him, they`re enabling the man to continue in his irresponsible, outrageous, dangerous conduct. I mean, the talk about comparing nuclear buttons, whether it was sexual innuendo in that or not, it was just outrageous. I mean, you don`t -- the President apparently has no understanding of what a nuclear war would be like. This is extremely dangerous. The man is irrational. He`s an ignoramus. He`s totally unequipped and unprepared for the office. He is incurious, unread. He is an ignoramus. And on top of that, he is a man of depraved character and probably mentally ill.

I mean, delusional. He makes up his own reality and believes it. These Twitters, we`ve got two years of evidence now that the man is weird, bizarre, not of sound mind. He`s surely mentally ill to some degree. Precisely what that diagnosis might be is really immaterial because it`s the effect that counts. And the president is undermining the national institutions that are such great value us to. In the first amendment, freedom of the speech and freedom of the press to name the most important. And he is endangering national security with all of this saber rattling and comparison of his nuclear button with that of the North Korean Dictator. It`s outrageous and it`s very dangerous.

REID: Well, it is -- I think a lot of people share your view and wish there was a Republican Party that had some Gordon Humphreys that would do something about it because they are in power and they`re not doing much. Senator Gordon Humphrey, thank you so much for being here.

HUMPHREY: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you. And coming up, another Republican chairman announces he`s retiring from Congress. I`ll speak with Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer about his announcement today in the makings of a blue wave election, just ahead.


REID: Despite the increasingly disturbing questions about the man in the White House, the extreme agenda of his administration keeps marching forward. The Trump Administration is telling nearly 200,000 Salvadorans they must leave, people who have been here since devastating earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001. Trump is requesting $18 billion for the initial phase of his border wall, the one Mexico was supposed to pay for, demanding that Congress give his administration the money or he won`t renew DACA for the nearly 800,000 immigrants who were brought to this country as children.


TRUMP: We want the wall. The wall is going to happen or we`re not going to have DACA. We want to get rid of chain migration, very important and we want to get rid of the lottery system.


REID: Trump`s disdain for so-called chain migration and the Visa lottery program are also based more on fear-mongering than facts. But it puts Democrats in a position of whether to risk a government shutdown or to give in to the political blackmail. There`s also the alternative. Democrats are looking to 2018 as the next best chance to put the brakes on this administration and its agenda. And today the man who has already spent millions of dollars calling for Donald Trump`s impeachment made a big announcement. Tom Steyer joins me next.


REID: As calls for the impeachment of Donald Trump have increased, there has been an increase in speculation about the Democratic donor behind a series of nationally broadcast ads pushing for president`s removal. Tom Steyer has spent $20 million on the effort, leading to questions about whether the buy was at least in part about his own political ambitions.

Well, today Steyer made a big announcement. No, he is not running but he does have designs on helping Democrats take control of the House.


TOM STEYER, CO-FOUNDER ONECALIFORNIA BANK: So I`m not going to run for office in 2018, that`s not where I can make the biggest difference. 2018 is going to be a fierce contest for me and for everyone on our team. 2018 is going to be a straight forward debate between two radically different visions of America.

In ten months, god willing, the people of America are going to send a wave across the nation. This tide will wash away the stain of the Trump administration.


REID: Tom Steyer is the founder and president of Nexgen America, which will now focus on increasing millennial voter turnout in 2018 and he joins me now.

Tom, thanks for being here. So, you spent quite a bit of money, $20 million is quite a lot of money, on ads calling for Donald Trump`s impeachment. Surely you know that Republicans, that this current congress is not going to impeach Donald Trump.

So what was that about? What was that $20 million spent for? Was it about building a database? Was it about getting your name out there so that you potentially could run for office? What was that about?

STEYER: Well, Joy, first of all, let me say we`re doubling down on the need to impeach campaign. So, it`s not what it was about, it`s what it is about. The fact of the matter is the whole point of the need to impeach campaign was to empower and enable the voice of the American people to be heard. And we believe and we believed then when we started on October 20, and we believe today that in fact the president is dangerous. He is unfit for office. We need to get rid of him. And that the American people`s voice, regardless of what party they`re in, is the only power in the land that will make that happen, is the only thing that the elected officials of both parties absolutely have to listen to.

So it`s true that we`re going to do all the youth organizing that I talked about this morning. But it`s also true that we`re doubling down on the need to impeach campaign. That wasn`t a tactic, that is an ongoing campaign where we feel very strongly we need to get rid of this dangerous and unfit president.

REID: But Tom, you`re a good businessman, obviously. You`ve got -- you`ve made a lot of money in business. You`re a smart guy. You must know -- clearly you`re a political realist, you know that this House of Representatives that is genuflecting before Trump, the obsequious behavior you`ve seen out of Republicans, the speaker of the house talking about exquisite leadership. Since you know, you must know, that they are not going to impeach Donald Trump no matter what the public says, you ran those ads on Fox News.

So there is something else going on here. This was partly about building your political organization, right?

STEYER: I think that is not right, Joy. We are insincere in this. And I think you`ve got to look back in history to how impeachment really works, because if you look back about what impeachment means, it`s a very serious endeavor. It means getting rid of the elected president of the United States, and that cannot happen without the knowledge and the intent and the will of the American people.

If you look at Richard Nixon, it was a two and a half year process before he resigned, leading up to what would have been his impeachment. This is not happening silently, it`s not happening quickly, it`s not happening behind closed doors or in the dead of night, this is a long educational process of the American people so that we all understand what`s at stake, how bad the situation really is, and what we can do together to solve it.

So anyone who thinks this is a short process or that we got into this on October 2017 thinking it would be over in 2018 doesn`t read history accurately. The fact of the matter is this is all about the education and empowerment of the American people, and that`s what we`re doing. We`re going directly to them.

REID: All right. Let`s talk about what you`re doing now with your NextGen Rise -- NextGen America was your original organization, now you have NextGen Rising. $30 million invested in this effort. You`re in Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia. What is that spend toward? Is it voter registration? What are you looking to do in those states?

STEYER: Well, let me say this, Joy, once again, this is not new. We have been doing so-called Millennial organizing for up to five years. What we`re saying is that in the United States, the largest age cohort is the Millennials, it`s bigger than the Boomers. And traditionally, they participate at extremely low levels in elections.

So our goal, when you say is it registration, is it engagement, it is voter participation? It`s all of the above. It`s really an attempt to engage Millennials, whether they`re in college or working or whatever, to engage them in the process, to let them know how important their participation is, and to basically broaden our democracy, because we believe the answer to the crisis that we`re in, that this administration and this rogue Republican Party have put us in, is more democracy with a small d -- broader participation, more people`s voice being heard, that`s our answer, and that`s what we`re trying to do in Millennial organizing.

REID: So, we`ve seen -- well, actually we`re very short on time, so I`ll just very quickly ask you, do you have any interest in running for president in 20?

STEYER: We are 100 percent focused on November 6, 2018. You can`t tell me, as smart as you are, Joy, and I certainly can`t tell you where we`re going to stand the morning after the election in 2018, but I know this we`re going to be in a substantially different place one way or the other. And we`re absolutely determined that this is the first step towards getting rid of this rogue administration and this rogue party that is trying to take us backwards and is working antithetically to the interests of the American people.

REID: All right, Tom Steyer, thank you very much for being here.


REID: Appreciate it.

And up ahead -- thank you -- why Oprah 2020 may not be such a crazy idea. We`ll look at that and who else may take on Trump just ahead.

Plus, the art of the pander in Thing One, Thing Two tonight. That`s what you like, right?


REID: Thing One tonight, in his speech today at the American Farm Bureau Federation, Donald Trump let the crowd know just how lucky they are.


TRUMP: Oh are you happy you voted for me. You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege. The other choice wasn`t going to work out too well for the farmers.


REID: Wow. Then Trump made an unabashed attempt to curry favor, by telling the crowd he would give them exactly what they wanted, unless of course they don`t want it.


TRUMP: I`m looking forward to working with congress to pass the farm bill on time so that it delivers for all of you. And I support a bill that includes crop insurance, unless you don`t want me to.



REID: It`s an all too familiar scene for Trump, playing to the crowd and ingratiating himself to whoever is in front of him by saying stuff he thinks they`ll like: in a word, pandering. And it`s not just for crop insurance, we`ll hop on the pander express in Thing Two in 60 seconds.


REID: Now, most politicians do some degree of pandering, but Donald Trump is on a whole another level, like when he live polled the evangelical student body at Liberty University to make sure he was pandering effectively.


TRUMP: So, as i hear this is a major theme right here. But 2 Corinthians, right? 2 Corinthians, 3:17. That`s the whole ball game. Where the spirit of the lord, right? Where the spirit of the lord is, there is liberty. And here there is Liberty College. But Liberty University. But it is so true.

You know, when you think -- and that`s really -- is that the one? Is that the one you like? I think that`s the one you like, because I loved it.


REID: Lordy.

Or this appeal to the crowd at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


TRUMP: I love the people in this room. I love Israel. I love Israel. My daughter Ivanka is about to have a beautiful jewish baby.


REID: But here is the thing about shameless pandering, you have to know a few basic facts. For instance, if you try pandering to Penn State students by praising their long-time football coach Joe Paterno, you probably should know Joe Pa is no longer with us.


TRUMP: I know -- I know a lot about Pennsylvania, and it`s great. How`s Joe Paterno? Are we going bring that back, right? How about that whole -- how about that whole deal.





OPRAH WINFREY, ACTRESS/PRODUCER: We all know that the press is under siege these days, but we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice.

To tyrants and victims and secrets and lies, I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times.


REID: Oprah Winfrey gave a speech yesterday at the Golden Globes that ignited speculation that the media mogul and actual billionaire is weighing a run for the White House.


WINFREY: In 1944, Reecie Taylor was a young wife and a mother. She was just walking home from a church service she`d attended in Abbeville, Alabama when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped and left blindfolded by the side of the road. And for too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.


REID: But a Winfrey 2020 campaign isn`t just idle speculation? CNN`s Brian Stelter tweeted earlier, "I`m told by two of Oprah`s close friends that she is actively thinking about running for president in 2020."

And her long-time partner Stedman Graham said she would, quote, absolutely consider a run.

A source close to Oprah tells MSNBC that as of today she has no intention of running for president in 2020. But in the age of Donald Trump is the idea of President Oprah all that far fetched? That`s coming up next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you consider a woman for your running mate? And if so, who?

TRUMP: Well, I would consider, and as Chris can tell you, I threw out the name of a friend of mine, who I think the world of. She`s great. And some people thought it was an incredible idea, some didn`t. But Oprah. I said Oprah Winfrey who is really great. And I think we would be a very formidable team.


REID: Donald Trump recognized the value of fame of a presidential ticket almost two decades ago, but he`s hardly the first. In fact, in the United States, fame has a long history as a primary vehicle for political stardom, including for election to the White House.

Christina Greer is a fellow at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University, and MSNBC Michael Steele is former chairman of the RNC.

All right, so let me put to you my theory, Christina Greer, I feel like Americans have this high-minded sense of American voters and what we look for in a candidate. And we overlook the fact that fame is always something Americans have looked for. I mean, you think of Andrew Jackson, you know, he was famous for his exploits in the war of 1812. He was probably the most famous American of the time. That`s why he was able to get himself in front of the electorate.

You have somebody like even Abraham Lincoln, who used those Lincoln-Douglas debates, some with one term in the congress, two years, and he was able to sort of propel himself.

You go to a Kennedy who had the sort of archetypal Hollywood glamour. This is the way American votes -- Ronald Reagan, hello.


REID: Right, so the idea -- why is Oprah singled out as the one absurd idea when it comes to using fame as a vehicle to get into politics?

GREER: Well, we know that this country has a problem with black people, we know this country has a problem with women, and so she is the quintessential black woman that -- you know, so people are saying, oh, she could never be.

I have some issues and some thoughts about why I don`t think it`s a great idea. But we know like Oprah is way more qualified than Donald Trump. She`s an actual billionaire, which he is not. She reads, which he does not. She`s not a race baiter, which -- you know, and she actually has a positive view of this country and has actually worked her way up from nothing to become something which Donald Trump hasn`t. He has his daddy.

But we have to think about a lot of these thought pieces that are being written are by men, first of all, who are like well it`s absurd and she shouldn`t be. My issue is why aren`t we looking to the bench of the Democratic women who are already there? There are some black women across the country, you know, you had many on your show, right.

But like someone like Stacey Abrams who will hopefully become the first black female governor in the history of the United States in Georgia. Why aren`t we sort of putting all of our money and resources and energy behind someone like that? Why aren`t we really cultivating talent in Kamala Harris or women who are in the House, you know, or mayors who can then become governors and really build a pipeline.

So I think it`s sort of like a lazy short cut that a lot of Americans -- they sort of see this black woman and, say, yay she`s our big sister. Like she`s not, actually, you know she`s -- we really need to think about people who are in the government pipeline.

I don`t think she would be a failure. I think Donald Trump is a failure. I think Oprah would supercede Donald Trump in ways that we couldn`t even imagine. We also have to remember, there are many times -- we look at mayors across the country, often times black mayors and female mayors are brought in when white men have destroyed everything. And we don`t need someone a cleanup woman, we need someone who actually is part of this institution...

REID: Well, first black presidents kind of do that, as well. Because I think Barack Obama did that.

Harold Washington, David Dinkins (ph).


MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I was going to say, Joy -- I was going to say a brother did bring the Republican Party back, so I don`t know.

REID: Well, he did help y`all out. He gave you a narrative of something to run against, that you guys put the anti-Obama, that would be Donald Trump.

STEELE: No, I was talking about me, Joy, I wasn`t talking about Obama.

REID: You did. You did, brother. No, you did.

You don`t get credit for it, because you did in 2010. You did.

But, you know, it is interesting, Michael, in terms of the different ways that Democrats and Republicans think about what qualifies someone for power. I mean, George W. Bush was able to ride because his name was George W. Bush. That was good enough for a lot of Americans. They said, oh, I can have a beer with him.

You have that archetype for men. You have Bill Clinton. Nobody knew what he did as governor of Arkansas, but they just knew he played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall and he seemed cool, you know, right.

The idea of Barack Obama being sort of the cooler, younger candidate. These are the ways that people think about men in power.

Are we being unfair by saying that a woman who runs a very successful business, who is a billionaire, who runs an organization that`s far more legitimate than the Trump organization, that by default, because she is a famous celebrity, she is set aside?

STEELE: Oh, I think that`s exactly right. I would agree very much with the professor on that point because the reality of it is this is a new era for women in many respects.

Yes, we`ve elected women before. They have been governors of states. They`ve been in the senate. They have even run for president.

But I don`t think Americans have really taken women seriously when it comes to having an owning power and then being able to use that power to advance themselves, because remember, they have always advanced their spouse. They have always advanced someone else.

I think the idea of looking at your bench, and I say this to my own party, look at the Republican women who are on the sidelines, they should be the ones out in front. They should be the ones that we should have engaged in the conversation when we`re talking about the important order of issues of the day and we don`t do that. It cuts across both lines. And I think this -- the excitement about this election cycle Oprah Winfrey not withstanding, is going to be about what women do in this enviornment based on what we`ve seen them do in Alabama, in Virginia and elsewhere.

REID: All right, very quickly...

GREER: I think we just need to remember, also, that white women have a long history of voting Republican when it comes to the presidential election. So, we also can`t get excited just because we have a woman at the top of the ticket.

REID: That didn`t work last time.

GREER: We know historically white women don`t vote for the Democratic candidate.

REID: At least not in the majority, that`s true.

Christina Greer, Michael Steele, thank you very much. Appreciate you guys joining me.

Interesting conversation.

All right, that`s All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.



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