Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 9, 2018 Guest: Jason Johnson, Rick Wilson, Mazie Hirono, Evan McMullin, Kurt Bardella
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it`s very sad what they`ve done with this fake dossier.
REID: Democrats release the Fusion GPS transcripts.
TRUMP: But I think it`s a disgrace.
REID: Tonight, explosive new details about the Steele dossier, including fears that Trump was blackmailed. And that a human source from inside the Trump organization led to the FBI`s investigation. Then --
STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, WHITE HOUSE: This is what they think about President Trump behind closed doors.
REID: Steve Bannon bounced from Breitbart as his epic collapse continues.
TRUMP: That`s why sloppy Steve is now looking for a job.
REID: And the self-proclaimed very stable genius holds court on immigration --
TRUMP: My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.
REID: -- and plays chicken with DACA and the wall.
TRUMP: I think that`s what she`s saying.
REID: ALL IN starts now.
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REID: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. Republicans did not want the public to see secret testimony related to the infamous Trump dossier. But today democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein went ahead and released the testimony anyway. And now that we`ve seen it, it`s clear why the Republicans didn`t want it to get out because this testimony destroys the conspiracy theory being peddled on the right to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s Russia investigation. According to that theory, the dossier was co-opted by the FBI in 2016 as part of a Democratic plot to tarnish Donald Trump.
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REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: The Clinton campaign and the DNC, now we know those are one and the same, paid the law firm who paid Fusion GPS who paid Christopher Steele who paid Russians to give him this dossier and get this dossier that was we think taken to the FISA court and was the basis for securing warrant to spy on American --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman -- the Clinton campaign --if you let me, I will get to this, I will get to this --
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REID: The testimony released today blows those claims out of the water and the two Republican Senators blocking its release, Chuck Grassley, and Lindsey Graham knew that. They knew the narrative being pushed on Fox News and Capitol Hill was baloney. But instead of correcting that narrative, they chose to perpetuate it calling for a second special counsel to investigate so-called FBI bias and referring the author of the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, for a criminal investigation. It`s all part of a concerted drive by the President`s allies to muddy the waters of the Russia investigation and discredit the dossier, which outlines alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in 2016. According to the testimony released today, the reports in that dossier were "really serious and really credible." And their author Steele was an experienced intelligence professional who used to be the top Russia expert at MI6.
The testimony was given by Glenn Simpson, Co-Founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, which hired Steele to investigate Donald Trump during the campaign. The research by Fusion GPS, in turn, was originally funded by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative Web site and later by a lawyer representing the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Simpson was interviewed in August for about ten hours by investigators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And more recently, at his firm`s work has taken center stage in right-wing conspiracy theories, he`s been calling on the committee`s senior Republicans, Grassley and Graham, to release his testimony. Well, today the top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary, Dianne Feinstein, got tired of waiting.
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SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think the people are entitled to know what was said and the lawyers also wanted it released. I see no problem with releasing.
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REID: A spokesman for Grassley slammed Feinstein`s move in a written statement claiming that it "undermines the integrity of the committee`s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid, voluntary testimony related to the independent recollections of future witnesses." But Grassley may have had other reasons to object. According to the testimony, Christopher Steele approached the FBI in the Summer of 2016, not as part of some shadowy Democratic plot, but because he was deeply troubled by his findings in the dossier. "He said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government about this information. He thought from his perspective there was an issue, a security issue, about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed." When Steele finally did get in contact with the FBI, it turned out he was not the first person to do so according to this testimony. "They believed Chris` information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing.
One of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization." I`m joined now by two people who know a thing or two about the Department of Justice, MSNBC Justice Analyst Matt Miller, who was Chief Spokesman at the DOJ under President Obama and NBC News National Security Contributor Frank Figliuzzi, former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI, under then-Director Robert Mueller. And Frank, I`ll start with you first. There are questions about who this other intelligence source inside the Trump campaign might have been and whether it might be George Papadopoulos, the same person who`s pleaded guilty to a crime, the same person who allegedly on a drunken night told Australian officials who then relayed to American intelligence officials that there might be some attempted contact with the Trump campaign by the Russians. Would it surprise you if George Papadopoulos was the inside man, so to speak?
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: No, that could very well be the case. We know that he had a conversation with the Aussies in May 2016. We know that Christopher Steele approached the FBI in July 2016 so this could be consistent. But I`ll tell you something, if it`s not George Papadopoulos, then we`ve got a mystery person inside the Trump campaign who theoretically could still be in place. And if in fact that`s been compromised or jeopardized, I`m sure that the Mueller team is kind of scratching their heads tonight.
REID: Yes, and you know, I think probably the thing that`s the most maddening when you look at this new piece of information that Republicans tried to stop us from seeing but that we can now see, is that you had the FBI being approached now by at least two people, someone inside the campaign, as well as this former MI6 top Russia expert and raising the alarms that one of the two candidates for President of the United States could be being blackmailed. And there`s this piece from Glenn Simpson`s testimony to Congress that Steele was concerned. He said, "I understand Chris severed his relationship with the FBI out of concern that he did not know what was happening inside the FBI and there was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people." That`s referring to the fact that the FBI was denying that it was investigating the Trump campaign while it was acknowledging that it was investigating Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. Is that a scandal, a new scandal upon the FBI?
MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE ANALYST: I think it`s a tough thing to explain. Look, I think --
REID: Matt first.
MILLER: I think what -- I think why Christopher Steele severed his ties was after that story in The New York Times ran October 31st when they said that you know, the FBI`s been investigating this and so far had found no clear ties. And of course, Chris Steele was talking to FBI agents and had his own information he was supplying them that showed that wasn`t the case. And that happened after two other events. One, Director Comey having sent -- having sent that letter up to the Hill, and then two, a Wall Street Journal story that had a number of leaks from the FBI, very harmful to the Clinton campaign about attempts by FBI agents to investigate the Clinton Foundation.
So I think he was very concerned when he saw that story. And I think we still haven`t ever gotten a good explanation from the bureau about why they did knock that down. It may be very well that they didn`t want --- that they didn`t want the Trump campaign, people they planned to approach to know how serious they were conducting this investigation. In fact, that would be a legitimate thing for them to do. They aren`t supposed to be confirming investigations appropriately, it only seems odd because they acted so differently in the Clinton case.
REID: Yes. And Frank, I mean, that -- I guess -- I guess that would be sort of the only rational explanation why the FBI would then prompt the New York Times to publish this story that essentially knocks down the idea that the Trump campaign was being investigated while they were confirming that Hillary Clinton was. Doesn`t this also explode this idea on the right that somehow the FBI was this hotbed of liberalism that was trying to help Hillary Clinton?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes, I think it does. And we know now that the FBI was being very circumspect. And I think as Matt said, they were in the midst of figuring out what they had with Trump, a candidate, very early stages perhaps, and just were circumspect to come out with it. But I also want to add something here, because we`re talking about Chris Steele as a British Intelligence, professional, who knows Russia, came forward, called time- out, went to the FBI. I also want to point out another intelligence professional here, and that`s Dianne Feinstein. Don`t forget she Chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. I personally as A.D. at FBI had met with her personally, briefed the committee, briefed her. She gets the intelligence from Russia and I think in part the reason why she released this transcript was because she knows how deeply damaging the Russian threat can be. She needs the public to see it and she was extremely frustrated with her colleagues in not being able to release it.
REID: Yes, absolutely. And I think you know, she of all people would understand that according to Glenn Simpson`s lawyer, somebody`s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and those involved didn`t want to see harm come to anyone else. You know, she also met with dealing with a colleague on the other side of the aisle that doing were things like Lindsey Graham did this weekend on "MEET THE PRESS." This is Lindsey Graham again reiterating who he wants investigated.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I want a special counsel to look at not only how Mr. Steele conducted himself, what the FBI did with the dossier, whether Mr. Orr, whose wife worked for Fusion GPS alongside Mr. Steele, what involvement did he have in the dossier, and I want to find out if the lead investigator of the Clinton e-mail investigation had a political bias against Trump for Clinton to the point that it was a sham investigation. I don`t know all these things, but I can tell you somebody needs to look. If you believe Robert Mueller should be looking at the Trump campaign, count me in. But if you ignore all this stuff, you`re blind.
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REID: Matt, what does it say to you or how do you feel about it when you hear -- when you hear Lindsey Graham saying that, knowing that he heard the exact same testimony Diane Feinstein did, that he knew what was in these transcripts and yet he still demonize -- he`s still demonizing Mr. Steele, still demonizing Fusion GPS, and he knew better?
MILLER: You know, one of the things that`s most stark when you read this transcript is the behavior of Christopher Steele versus that of Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, and everyone in the Trump orbit. Look, Christopher Steele is not an American citizen, he`s a British citizen, someone who`s worked with American intelligence agencies and national security agencies for years. But he was so concerned by what he saw and cared so much about America`s national security, that he took it upon himself to call the FBI. Contrast that with Donald Trump Jr. who saw that the Russians want to interfere with the selection and said, I love it. Contrast it with Jared Kushner, who got an e-mail saying the same thing, and went to a meeting. And contrast that with Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, who seeing Christopher Steele tried to blow the whistle, and refer him for criminal charges, try to have him prosecuted and sent to jail. It really is, I would say a shameful moment for those two members of the Senate.
REID: Yes, well said. Matt Miller, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you, both. I appreciate it. And for more on Russian efforts to block the dossier testimony from being released -- from being released, let`s bring in MSNBC Contributor Jennifer Rubin, Conservative Columnist for The Washington Post and Evan McMullin, Independent Presidential Candidate in 2016, who`s also happens to be a former CIA officer. And actually, I`m going to start with you, Evan. What do you make of this? You just heard you know, Lindsey Graham again demonizing Christopher Steele, who made it his business, he`s not even an American citizen as Matt just pointed out, to try to inform the FBI that he thought there could be blackmail happening against an American presidential candidate and then finding out there was an insider in the Trump campaign that was saying the same thing. What does it -- what do you make of the idea that Republicans have been trying to get Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele investigated?
EVEN MCMULLIN, FORMER INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it goes to show how far this extreme partisanship with many Republicans in Congress has gone. It`s gone so far that they`re willing to attack people who are standing up for American and for western national security, meaning our allies in Europe, in the U.K., elsewhere, and of course here at home. I mean, this is what they`re doing. They`re attacking even the people that serve our country`s interests, our country`s most vital interests including the integrity of our elections. I find (AUDIO GAP) Grassley`s attack, especially the criminal referral to the DOJ on Christopher Steele, to be just disgusting and very disappointing. I mean, this is -- this is -- they are not serving the public interest. What they did is completely disingenuous.
Keep in mind, they took information that they had received from the FBI and then wrote a criminal referral back to the Department of Justice about information that the FBI had given them. Think about how ridiculous that is. That`s information the DOJ already has. And these guys, in a political stunt, send it back to DOJ and said, we`re going to give you a criminal referral on this. It`s absolutely absurd. Christopher Steele is a patriotic Brit. He`s somebody who cares about our security too. He`s been a partner in a variety of forms with our national security and law enforcement officials. He did what any intelligence or any law enforcement self-respecting officer would do, and that is alerted the appropriate authorities about a serious national security risk.
REID: Yes, and Jennifer, you know, you have the Australians alerting the United States about their alarms about what was going on between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. You have Christopher Steele, who`s a British citizen, MI6 Russia expert, alerting them. They`re being alerted by the FBI, they`re being investigated by the FBI. How under those circumstances, knowing what they knew before we did, can Lindsey Graham, best friend of John McCain, possibly justify turning this around and demonizing Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS?
JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you ask the same question that I have been asking, which is, remember, how did the FBI and Steele kind of get together? And that was through John McCain, one of the closest friends and colleagues that Lindsey Graham has in the Senate. But instead, as you say, he`s off on this wild goose chase. And the Republicans can understand didn`t want us to learn lots of things that were in this testimony. I didn`t know, for example, that they determined that, for example, Donald Trump was doing business in former Soviet States. Donald Trump kept denying he did business in Russia but he didn`t say anything about Georgia and Azerbaijan, two places that apparently still figured out he was active in. He talked about ties with people connected to the Russian mob. He talked about, as you have said, other people within the Trump campaign who had this concern he was being blackmailed. So there`s a lot of substantive material in here.
But the picture that you get is someone, both Mr. Simpson and Mr. Steele, who are professionals, who are handling material in the appropriate way, who didn`t go in with the agenda that they wanted to find this or that or they wanted to make stuff up but they wanted to find out was out there. You know, Republicans don`t want to find out what`s out there, and they`re completely just interested frankly in finding out the truth here. The name of the game for them toss circle the wagons around Donald Trump, threw up enough dust and enough distraction that we all get lost in the weeds and hope that somehow they stumble through 2018. But instead they`re making themselves accessories to this cover-up, they`re making themselves complicit in an effort to mislead the American people and to really conceal Donald Trump`s own wrongdoings.
REID: Yes, and everything you have now, there`s -- a piece of Spencer Ackerman is reporting just tonight in The Daily Beast that even after the election, an acolyte of Michael Flynn and Peter Thiel was floating the idea of withdrawing U.S. forces from parts of Europe that the United States has been defending since the Cold War, just to please Vladimir Putin. The evidence is mounting that this administration is attempting to appease Putin. And so when you couple that with these ties before the election, does it -- I mean, you ran for President of the United States. Can you imagine why somebody like Lindsey Graham, who used to be a hawk, could possibly not be interested in exploring that further?
MCMULLIN: No, and he has been. It`s -- Lindsey Graham`s behavior over the past month or two has been absolutely bewildering. I`m somebody who has had a great deal of respect for him. I just don`t understand it. I absolutely don`t understand it. The Russian interfered in our election, they would like to deprive the American people of unimpeded power to choose their own leaders. The Russians want to have a say in that. They had a say in that in 2016. It`s a huge national security problem. Lindsey Graham knows it. Why he would behave in this manner is just -- I just can`t explain it.
REID: Yes, and I think a lot of people are baffled. Jennifer Rubin and Evan McMullin, thank you so much for your time tonight.
MCMULLIN: Thank you.
REID: Thank you. And next, two -- what two-shirted strategic genius Steve Bannon Loses two jobs in one day. The epic demise of Steve Bannon in two minutes.
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BANNON: You`ve got this miracle. You don`t think that that`s going to resonate. When you say he`s created this kind of Oprah thing to set up to run against him in 2020, because of just his tweets or maybe his -- the way he comports himself, isn`t his actions, whether it`s destroying ISIS in the Middle East, or rebuilding the economy here, and unlocking the animal spirits of the American people, don`t you think those actions go a lot farther than your quiet professionalism?
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REID: Well, the groveling didn`t work. Steve Bannon is out of a job tonight. Two jobs, in fact. He has stepped down as Executive Chairman of Breitbart News and will no longer host the Breitbart radio show on Sirius XM. Bannon attacked Donald Trump`s family in the new book Fire and Fury, going after Ivanka and Donald Jr. and angering the President in the process. After the book came out, Trump said Bannon had "lost his mind" and said his one-time campaign chief executive and fired chief strategist "has nothing to do with me or my presidency." That in turn lost Bannon the support of Rebecca Mercer and her father Robert, the billionaire backers of the Breitbart media site where he served as Executive Chairman since 2012.
Well, tonight The New York Times broke the news that Bannon is out at Breitbart. His departure forced by Rebecca Mercer herself. MSNBC Political Analyst Robert Costa, National Reporter for the Washington Post, has been reporting on Bannon`s exit today and Kurt Bardella is a former Spokesperson for Breitbart News. I`ll start with you on this Robert. Give us the play by play of how Bannon lost his gig.
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It came sudden today at Breitbart`s headquarters. People were preparing for radio interviews, Bannon himself was sharing the Web site and the editorial coverage. But the decision in a way also had been in the works for weeks. Rebecca Mercer, the billionaire donor who`s a stakeholder in the site and others in the Breitbart leadership were looking to push him. They wanted to move away from Bannon as being this omnipresent person running the whole operation.
REID: And you reported or you tweeted out earlier today that poor people close to Bannon, his wistful, but has referenced Thomas Cromwell in recent days, during Cromwell guided a king but it never last and Cromwell was eventually sent to the tower.
COSTA: And executed.
REID: What is that about?
COSTA: Well, when I was doing my reporting today with my colleagues Josh Dawsey and Paul Farhi, we`re trying to really get a sense of what`s happening inside of the whole Breitbart world today as this drama unfolds, this battle with the White House. And people say Bannon keeps talking about history, he mentioned Thomas Cromwell, who was an adviser to a British king and he eventually was sent to the tower of London and executed. And Bannon`s reason for that, they tell us, is that he sees himself as a revolutionary figure who guided a president, but he never really saw it as something that would last.
REID: Well, he thinks quite highly of himself. Does he have to move out of the Breitbart residence where he lives?
COSTA: We`ve been looking into that, and it`s hard to say exactly what Bannon`s next step will be. He does runs a political operation, a C4 group and he`s going to try to perhaps move forward in 2018. But it`s going to be a real challenge Joy, to see if Steve Bannon can have a presence in the Republican Party because President Trump is such a dominant force and he doesn`t want Bannon there.
REID: Yes, and so Kurt, you know, we have come to know, you know, over the past 18 months or two years, Steve Bannon as this very haughty figure, thinks highly of himself and likes to talk into a tough-guy terms. This is Bannon from the Weekly Standard just back on August 18th after his White House exit. This is just after he left, and he said, I feel jacked up. Now I`m free. I`ve got my hands back on the weapon. Someone said, it`s Bannon the barbarian, I`m definitely going to crush the opposition, there`s no doubt. I built an F-ing machine at Breitbart. Now that I`m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we`re about to rev that machine up and rev it up we will do." Is that a person that`s capable of being deflated? Do you think that his ego has been checked?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR BREITBART NEWS: No, I think Steve, much like his former boss, Donald Trump, is a textbook narcissist. And he believes that the more that they punch at him, the more that he goes down, the harder he`ll fight to come back. He is kind of that street fighter. And he talks about the how he built at Breitbart the so-called fight club. That`s what they`d refer to themselves as. So I don`t think Steve will go quietly. Now, the question is, is it viable for him to make a return, really that hinges on his relationship with Trump right now. Trump is the Republican Party, he is the gateway to donors, to supporters, to that audience. If Bannon can try to find his way back into Trump`s good graces, he might have a second, third, fourth lease on life. But that`s really the ultimate question.
REID: And do you -- how could he possibly think he could do that? I mean, he accused Donald Trump`s son of treason. He went on the record, according to multiple people who have spoken about how they came to speak to Michael Wolff, they said Bannon was the guy who said, go ahead and talk to him. What way, what method would he use Kurt, to try to get back in Trump`s good graces?
BARDELLA: I think that for Steve to succeed, he needs Trump to fail. At the end of the day, Trump is all about instant gratification in that moment. And that`s why he`s so unpredictable. He can watch one segment and see one thing he doesn`t like, and all of a sudden tweet something crazy and fly off the handle. The Mueller investigation is a dark cloud that really is hanging over this Presidency. And as that cloud continues to darken and unfold, that can create a lot of chaos and instability in the Donald Trump world and he can become very disenchanted very quickly with this current cast of advisers, start reaching out to outside people outside the White House, and I suspect that Steve Bannon will be right there whisper -- trying to whisper in Trump`s ear telling him, this is what people are serving you right now. This is what they`re doing wrong, here`s what you should be doing and try to use the chaos of failure that can be around Trump in the Mueller investigation to get back into his good graces.
REID: And Robert, there`s been some reporting that part of the reason that Steve Bannon`s felt comfortable going on the record with Michael Wolff, is that he assumed that Roy Moore was going to win, that his candidates would actually win and that would give him leverage because Trump would need him and feel like he need him in 2018. Can you -- can you confirm that?
COSTA: Joy, you`re putting your finger on the Alabama senate race which was a huge factor in this entire unraveling of the relationship between the White House and Steve Bannon. He was confident that Roy Moore would win that race. And when Democrat Doug Jones won, he saw his political capital and his relationship with the White House suddenly turn. The White House was pointing a finger at Bannon and saying, you`re responsible for this. You made this happen in Alabama. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was only happy to cheer along that conclusion by the President.
REID: Yes, we saw that happy tweet by Mitch McConnell`s office. I`m sure he`s quite glad to see him gone. Robert Costa, Kurt Bardella, thank you, guys. I appreciate it.
COSTA: Thank you.
REID: Thank you. And next, the President who calls himself a very stable genius decided to put on a show for the cameras today and displayed a very loose grasp of what he was talking about. We`ll show you what happened right after this
REID: There are two competing conceptions of Donald Trump as President. The version in Michael Wolff`s new book, of a man seen by everyone as an inattentive and incurious child who is utterly unfit for the job and the version being pushed by Trump himself, of a "very stable genius." Today, the President got a chance to make his case when he allowed cameras to roll for nearly an hour as he presided over a bipartisan negotiating session on immigration. One issue on the table, whether to pass a standalone bill to protect DREAMers from deportation as Democrats want.
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SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: What about a clean DACA bill now, and with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure --
TRUMP: I have no problem. I think that`s basically what Dick is saying. We`re going to come up with DACA, we`re going to do DACA, and then we can start immediately on the phase two which would be comprehensive --
FEINSTEIN: Would you be agreeable to that?
TRUMP: Yes, I would like that. I think a lot of people would like to see that. But I think we have to do DACA first.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Mr. President, you need to be clear though. I think what Senator Feinstein is asking here, when we talk about just DACA, we don`t want to be back here two years later. You have to have security as the secretary would tell you.
TRUMP: But I think that`s what she`s saying.
MCCARTHY: No, I think she`s saying something different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: She was saying something different. Trump just didn`t seem to understand what it was. But Donald Trump has never been one to get bogged down in policy details. Indeed he told lawmakers today to just send him something, anything and he`ll sign it.
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TRUMP: When this group comes back, hopefully with an agreement, this group and others from the Senate, from the House, comes back with an agreement, I`m signing it. I mean, I will be signing it. I`m not going to say, oh, gee, I want this, I want that. I`ll be signing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Art of the deal. What it`s like to try and to negotiate with this President from a Senator who was in that meeting next.
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SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, (D) HAWAII: As the only immigrant serving in the United States Senate right now, I would like nothing better than for us to get to comprehensive immigration reform, but what I`m hearing around the table right now is a commitment to resolving the DACA situation, because there is a sense of urgency. Now, you have put it out there that you are $18 billion for a wall, or else there will be no DACA. Is that still your position?
TRUMP: Yeah. I can build it for less, by the way.
HIRONO: But you are --
TRUMP: I must tell you, I`m looking at these prices, somebody said $42 billion. This is like the aircraft carrier, started off at $1.5 billion, now at $18 billion. No. We can do it for less.
We can do a great job. We can do a great wall, but you need the wall. And I`m now getting involved. I like to build under budget, OK? I like to go under budget, ahead of schedule.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was the scene at today`s bipartisan negotiating session on immigration, and joining me now is the senator you just saw in that clip, Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.
And, senator, let`s talk about that last bit, the wall. Donald Trump said in response to Dianne Feinstein, when she asked about a clean DACA bill, yes, Put that in front of me and I`ll sign it. But then he said to you that it`s contingent on his wall. Did you come out of this negotiating -- negotiation understanding which of those two things is his position?
HIRONO: He repeated several times that DACA, he would like to resolve, but that the border security would be part of that resolution. So we actually have bipartisan support for the DREAMers in the senate, and I understand there were enough votes to pass a similar bill in the House, maybe not with the Freedom Caucus, but nonetheless going forward. But as you know, Joy, two days ago, he said, I need $18 billion for a wall or there will be no DACA, and that is why I wanted to ask him whether that`s still his position. And you notice that he did not answer that question.
Now I would have appreciated if he had clarified and just said, oh, yeah, that`s my still position. Then we would have that understanding. But then he kind of went all over the place. I asked him how many miles this wall would be and he didn`t respond.
So he wants something that he can call border security, something he can call a wall, but to me the fact that he didn`t come out and say, something that I said two days ago, $18 billion for a wall or no DACA, he didn`t do that. So I say maybe that he`s open to something that`s more reasonable.
I don`t know, because with the president, you don`t know what he`s going to say tomorrow.
And would you and your Democratic colleagues vote for a bill that included building this wall of Donald Trump`s?
HIRONO: We already know that building a massive wall that goes on for hundreds and hundreds of miles is not going to have much of an impact, and so that`s a waste of money. You know, $18 billion, which is just a down payment for a wall, could pay for a whole year of health care for 9 million children. So I am hopeful that if the House and Senate negotiators were left to our own devices, that we might be able to better come up with a compromise. But it`s the president interjecting himself at the last minute, throwing a wrench into the works that could foul things up.
And there`s no question that as long as border security is on the table, that`s going to be a challenge as it is. The Democrats are open to reasonable border security measures.
REID: But would you refuse to vote for a bill if it included the wall in it?
HIRONO: It depends on what the wall is. Because he said things such as originally you think it`s 2,000 miles, oh, no, it`s not 2,000 miles. And of course there are mountains and rivers and valleys. And so we`re not sure quite he means. He wants something that he can call a wall for his base, I suppose, but that`s going to be the challenging part of the negotiations.
As I said, we already have bipartisan agreement to support the dreamers in both the House and the Senate, particularly in the Senate, so why can`t we just go ahead with that? That was Dianne`s question and he did not provide a yes or no response to that.
REID: I want to play you a little bit more sound. This is Donald Trump talking about something it didn`t seem he was for the entire time he was running for president, and that`s comprehensive immigration reform. This is Donald Trump today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you talk about comprehensive immigration reform, which is where I would like to get to eventually, if we do the right bill here, we are not very far away. We`ve done most of it.
You want to know the truth there, kid, we do this properly, DACA, you`re not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform. And if you want to take it that further step, I`ll take the heat, I don`t care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Did it surprise you to hear Donald Trump say he`s for comprehensive immigration reform?
HIRONO: Well, that`s what he said today. And I`m all for comprehensive immigration reform because we passed such a bill in 2013 in the Senate. And I was very involved in that as a member of the judiciary committee. That`s what he`s saying today. He didn`t really talk about that during the campaign. So one never knows.
Now, I care very much about dealing with DACA and the 800,000 young people who are subject to deportation. And I have to say that one of the most astounding things that came out today was his homeland security secretary saying that no DACA participants had lost status. Is she not aware over 10,000 DACA participants have already lost their DACA status? That was an astounding thing. And I expect the homeland security secretary to know her facts better.
Yeah, indeed. Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you so much for your time tonight. Appreciate it. Thank you.
And still ahead, Joe Arpaio is a man of many titles -- former sheriff, Obama birther, convicted criminal. And now he wants to add senator to the list. That story coming up.
And the case for making sure every president from here on in is a stable genius in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
REID: Thing One tonight, Donald Trump is just three days away from his first physical since taking office. Now, we know two things about the 71- year-old`s health. During the campaign, Trump`s long-time doctor, Harold Bornstein, wrote a letter calling Trump`s health astonishingly excellent and stated unequivocally Trump will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAROLD BORNSTEIN, TRUMP DOCTOR: I thought about it all day. And at the end -- I get rushed and I get anxious when I get rushed. So I try to get four or five lines done as fast as possible that they would be happy with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The other thing we know about Trump`s health is that he really likes fast food even as president, and so much so that according to Michael Wolff`s reporting for Fire and Fury, the president of the United States takes his cheeseburgers to bed with him.
Wolff`s book has also brought to the forefront something we don`t have medical analysis of: Trump`s mental fitness. Yesterday, a White House spokesman said a psychiatric exam would not be part of his physical on Friday.
But one lawmaker is trying to change that. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
REID: Pennsylvania Democrat Brendan Boyle introduced a bill in the House this morning which would require all presidential candidates to undergo a mental health exam with the secretary of the navy. The bill is called The Stable Genius Act. And it`s not a joke. It`s aimed to avoid a situation like we have now.
All we know about the mental fitness of the man in the White House is his own self-diagnosis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Is Donald Trump an intellectual? Trust me, I`m like a smart person.
I went to the best colleges -- or college.
I went to Wharton.
I had a situation where I was a very excellent student.
I`m a person that very strongly believes in academics.
I was a nice student.
I have a very good brain and I`ve said a lot of things.
I understand things. I comprehend very well, better than I think almost anybody.
I`m very highly educated. I know words. I have the best words.
I`m like a very smart person.
Like a smart person.
I`m a very smart person.
It`s like I`m a smart person.
Very intelligent person.
Like a lot of us are really smart.
I`m really smart.
We`re going to have smartness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? That`s what -- he should have had a jury, but you know what, I`ll make a prediction, I think he`s going to be just fine, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: After being convicted last July of criminal contempt for violating a judge`s order, and pardoned by the president in a tweet a month later, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now running for U.S. Senate.
Arpaio thanked Donald Trump in a tweet of his own, quote, "for seeing my conviction for what it is, a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama Justice Department."
Yet the Associated Press reports that the judge in Arpaio`s case has said pardons moot punishments in criminal cases, but don`t erase convictions, meaning that Arpaio is still an 85-year-old convicted criminal, which makes him the third convicted criminal running for office as a Republican this year joining Don Blankenship who is running for a senate seat in West Virginia after serving a year in federal prison for ignoring safety regulations in a mining explosion in 2010 that killed 29 men.
Blankenship will actually still be on probation at the time of the Republican primary.
And here in New York, ex-con Michael Grimm is running to reclaim his old congressional seat after he was forced to resign in 2014 and served seven months in prison for felony tax fraud.
Interestingly enough, a convicted felon isn`t prohibited from running for federal office at all.
Next, what happens when you elect a reality show star who hates to study to play the role of president. Well, he doesn`t always understand the nuances of party policies or even the broad strokes. More on that next.
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REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN: Something this big, something this generational, something this profound could not have been done without presidential leadership. Mr. President, thank you for getting us over the finish line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: House Speaker Paul Ryan was effusive in praising the dear leader Donald Trump after Republicans rammed their tax cuts for corporations and the 1 percent through congress. Ryan even coined a phrase that may come back to haunt him: exquisite leadership.
But one of the points in Michael Wolff`s Fire and Fury is that Donald Trump doesn`t really know Republican orthodoxy. That seems to be how he stumbled into agreeing, at least in principle, to comprehensive immigration reform today when he met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, comprehensive means comprehensive.
TRUMP: No, we are talking about comprehensive, now we are talking --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we are talking comprehensive --
TRUMP: If you want to go there, it`s OK, because you`re not that far away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President --
TRUMP: When this group comes back, hopefully with an agreement, this group and others, from the Senate, from the House comes back with an agreement, I`m signing it. I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we need to do DACA first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you need to be clear, though. I think what Senator Feinstein is asking here, when we talk about just DACA, we don`t want to be back here two years later.
TRUMP: I think that`s what she said. No, No, I think she`s saying something different.
I think what we`re all saying is we`ll do DACA and we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon, OK. We`ll take an hour off and then we`ll start.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Republicans sat around that table and watched their president almost give away the entire store for nothing. MSNBC political analyst Jason Johnson is the politics editor at The Root and a professor at Morgan State University; and Rick Wilson is a Republican strategist and media consultant.
And Rick, the entire premise of the Trump campaign was Mexico is sending its worst, we`re going to end immigration and build a wall. How did he suddenly go from that to being Marco Rubio? What is happening?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think Donald Trump got his gang of eight tattoo tonight and the Members Only jacket for RINO immigration squishes, because this is a guy who literally sat there today and shredded the entire Bannon/Steve Miller agenda on building the wall and throwing out all the brown people. It was a clown show.
REID: But who is in charge of telling Ann Coulter? I nominate you, Rick. You`re in charge of telling Ann Coulter. You have to tell her.
OK, so Jason, is this a Democrats in my Twitter feed, there is some anger that Democrats aren`t really putting their foot down and saying we ain`t voting for a wall period, end of story. We don`t care what you say.
Should Democrats be planting their flag there?
JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: They don`t even have to put the flag down yet, Joy, because it`s clear -- and this is from the book and everyone who has ever talked about this president, he agrees with whatever the last idea is of the person who left the room. That`s why he was ping ponging back and forth. I like this kind of immigration. I hate this kind of immigration. I don`t like these kind of people. I like these people.
So, the Democrats don`t have to take a strong position now because they don`t know what position Trump is going to have in three weeks.
That`s part of the problem. So, there is no reason to plant a flag.
REID: Rick, I`m going to let you listen to Sarah Huckabee Sanders whose job frequently is to try to interpret Trump for regular people.
Here she is trying to explain that he really does know what clean DACA bill means. He meant something completely different than what clean DACA bill sounds like. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Only if you look at what the president`s definition of a clean DACA bill is, and within that bill, he thinks that you have to include not just fixing the -- not just fixing DACA, but closing the loopholes and making sure we have a solution on the front so we don`t create a problem and find ourselves right back where we started in one, two, three years later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Help me, Rick. What did that mean?
WILSON: You know, Sarah Sanders is just the White House mistress of word vomit. Every day something new just pops out.
Look, I don`t blame her. It`s like Donald Trump speaks some sort of forgotten language like Hitite (ph) or Syrian and just rambles on and she just tries to translate as best she can.
But this is a White House led by a man who does not have a lot of shall we say intellectual heft when it comes to understanding complex items of the policy agenda. You know, he`s overcome by basically inanimate objects every day. And so you end up with a situation where he says things in this meeting that the rest of the Republicans are in the room saying, dear god, what are we doing here? Because, you know, it`s like they stumble occasionally on a policy win like the tax bill, and then they come to something like this and Trump is confused about what his own base is going to do about this.
A lot of his base was motivated and informed by the sense that he was going to build a wall and throw out all the brown people, and obviously, what he`s saying today is we`ll have a policy based on love and we`re going to do DACA and we`re going to come back an hour later and do comprehensive immigration reform.
Like I said, that gang of eight tramp stamp tattoos is going to look awesome.
REID: Back in June of 2016, we pulled this -- January of 2016, January 30th, as a matter of fact, Donald Trump told The New York Times editorial board the following about the wall. He said quote, "if it gets a little boring at his rallies, if I see people starting to sort of think about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I will just say, we`ll build the wall, and they go nuts.
Isn`t it just the case that Donald Trump used the wall and all of this Brexit talk about immigration just to trick his base into being for for him?
REID: Because he doesn`t know what any of this means?
JOHNSON: Joy, he doesn`t know what any of this means. He doesn`t know how to build it. He`s basically been punked multiple times by Mexico who is like, I`m not building your wall. I`m not giving you any money. Fox said I`m not building a wall. So he doesn`t know how this thing can get made. And he`s always been back and forth on these issues.
Look, I mean, back in 2012 remember he said Mitt Romney was crazy for telling people that they have to self-deport and he said that to Newsmax. But I think the important thing to remember is this, as much as Donald Trump seems to flip flop back and forth, and can`t figure out what he wants to order for lunch when it comes to immigration, this is the same administration that`s now trying to kick out 200,000 El Salvadorians, when they aren`t doing that to Kosovo refugees who we accepted in 1999. So the underlying tendency is still kicking out people of color, making it difficult for people of color to stay in the country, or at the same time fanning ignorance.
REID: And at the same time, Rick then why doesn`t his base react when he changes his mind?
WILSON: I think we`ll see the comment section of the now Steve Bannon free Breitbart tomorrow losing their minds on this and I think a lot of these folks that really relied on Donald Trump`s immigration message that he really activated in an effort to position himself as the guy who was going to return their jobs from the sly Mexicans and wile Chinese, you know, these evil brown people and people of color from overseas, I think he`s going to have some surprised supporters when they start reading these stories tomorrow.
REID: Absolutely. Jason Johnson, Rick Wilson, thank you, guys.
That`s All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening Rachel.
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