Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 16, 2018 Guest: Cory Booker, Matt Gaetz, Adam Schiff, Natasha Bertrand
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: We're entering into Trumpland and leaving the land of our founders. That's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: You said on Fox News that the President used strong language. What was that strong language?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY: Apologies. I don't remember specific word.
HAYES: From S-holes to memory holes.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.
HAYES: Tonight Senator Cory Booker joins me exclusively on the new line from the White House, the DACA debate, and a potential shutdown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone.
HAYES: Plus, two subpoenas for Steve Bannon.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, WHITE HOUSE: Here's what's going to get worse.
HAYES: My interview with Adam Schiff on why Steve Bannon was compelled to testify before House Intelligence today.
And the President's physical fitness test.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you assess the President's mental fitness for office.
HAYES: What we learned from Trump's doctor.
RONNY JACKSON, PHYSICIAN, WHITE HOUSE: We did do a cognitive assessment.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes and it Is very good to be back. Today, after spending the past few days offering a prosperous semi denials, the White House came pretty close to conceding what is almost certainly the truth, that the President of the United States used racist language in the Oval Office meeting where he killed the bipartisan DACA deal.
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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Look, I wasn't in that room so I can go only off of what the individuals who were. They said that term wasn't used but that tough language was. Look, no one here is going to pretend like the President is always politically correct. He isn't. I think that's one of the reasons the American people love him, one of the reasons that he won and is sitting in the Oval Office today because he isn't a scripted robot. He's somebody who tells things like they are sometimes and sometimes he does use tough language.
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HAYES: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who has effectively confirmed the President uses the racist language today placed blame on Trump's aides for killing the DACA deal.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the President that we saw Tuesday is -- that that Donald Trump exists and somehow by 12:00 on Thursday, something happened and I don't think he was well served by his staff but he's responsible for the way he conducts himself and so am I. I can't blame that on the staff but I do believe his staff was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that be General Kelly.
GRAHAM: Pretty much missed the mark here. I think General Kelly's a fine man but he's also part of the staff.
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HAYES: The President we saw on Tuesday in the words of Lindsey Graham is, of course, the one who promised to sign any DACA deal, any DACA deal brought to him before he was reportedly pressed not to do so by his advisers including immigration hardliners John Kelly and Steven Miller who feared that Graham and Democrat Dick Durbin would try to tricking into signing a bill that was damaging to him and would hurt him with his political base. Before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Kelly's former Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who was in that infamous meeting with Trump claimed not to recall exactly what the President said.
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SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Madam Secretary, you were in the room, you're under oath, did President Trump use this word or a substantially similar word to describe certain countries?
NIELSEN: I did not hear that word used, no, sir.
LEAHY: I'm not -- that's not the question. Did he use anything similar to that describing certain countries?
NIELSEN: The conversation was very impassioned. I don't dispute that the President was using tough language. Others in the room were also using tough language. Strong language, there was -- apologies, I don't remember specific word. What I was struck with frankly is I'm sure you were, as well was just the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone.
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HAYES: Nielsen also tried to explain the President's comments that he wanted more immigrants from Norway.
DURBIN: What did the President say about immigrants from Norway?
NIELSEN: I heard him repeating what he had learned in a meeting before that they are industrious, that they are hardworking country. They don't have much crime there. They don't have much debt. I think in general, I just heard him giving compliments to Norway.
LEAHY: Norway is a predominantly white country, isn't it?
NIELSEN: I actually do not know that, sir, but I imagine that is the case.
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HAYES: It is the case as you would expect the Acting Head of the DHS to know. Norway is very white. It is also the case that Norway has one of the world's shortest work weeks. So there's that in terms of hard working. Democrats on the committee including my next guest were not impressed with -- by Nielsen performance.
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BOOKER: When Oval Office rhetoric sounds like social engineering, we know from a human history the dangers of that. Our greatest, our greatest heroes in this country spoke out about people who have convenient amnesia or who are bystanders. And that you could even say in your testimony that Norwegians were preference by him because they're so hard working.
Excuse me, let me finish.
NIELSEN: Happy to.
BOOKER: When ignorance and bigotry is allied with power, it is a dangerous force in our country. Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.
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HAYES: Joining me now is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Senator, you were there in that hearing room today with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Do you believe she was truthful with you?
BOOKER: I do not. I think that her artful dodges, her hedging was insulting. And not just insulting because she wasn't being truthful in a Senate hearing but because she was trying to cover up for the vial and bigoted words of the President of the United States which is not just words that go away or words that disappear. We have our history replete with people who were just bystanders when folks were doing things, they were dangerous. And when the President of the United States has ignorance allied with power, it gives license. Those words fester. They give people permission to do things that are despicable. And so, for her to be silent, it's unacceptable.
HAYES: Is there a connection to your mind, between the policies pursued by DHS and by the administration at large and the sentiment expressed now in that infamous comment in that meeting?
BOOKER: That's really my worry is we are actively shaping immigration policy, taking a second look and they're demanding the end to many different programs. I know there's lots of people that want to do things that are akin to trying to genetically engineer the population of our state, of our nation. We are a nation that believes everyone, that God created everyone equal. And we need to respect the understanding that this is a nation that wasn't founded because we all look alike, pray alike, speak the same language. We are founded because share a set of ideals and principles. And so we are a moral nation. But the attempts that's seen to be happening in White House are contrary to our values, contrary to what distinguishes a person which is the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
HAYES: I just -- I want to be specific here. I mean, is it your belief that the White House's agenda, people like Steven Miller who advises the President on this, Chief of Staff Kelly, the President himself, have a vision for immigration that would attempt intentionally to reduce the number of brown and black, people of color that come into this country because of their views of the inferiority of those people?
BOOKER: Well, again, I don't have any factual evidence that that's what they're attempting to do. But when you hear the words that are coming out from them, when you see them saying things like the lottery system which the intention of it, we don't disagree with the policy but what the intention was to make sure we're not having bias toward certain groups reflecting days of old where we did have those kind of quotas from certain countries. So it seems like the policies they're doing could have a discriminatory impact and the language that's coming out of this White House, that's coming out of the lips of the President himself are definitely bigoted, definitely showing an ignorance and definitely I think hurtful and harmful to the security and the strength of this country and its moral fiber.
HAYES: The President said he would sign any deal that came to him in that infamous televised meeting. A deal came to him, he blew up about it. They say no deal on that right now. The Democrats in the Senate have the ability to filibuster this resolution. Will the Democrats stick up for the 800,000 DACA recipients whose lives are in limbo right now?
BOOKER: OK, I know that I will. I'm not going to vote or support anything they try to do that leaves these folks out. These aren't just you know, these aren't just statistics or numbers. These are not pawns in some larger political game. These are Americans in every way but the piece of paper. These are military folks. There's 20, 30, 40, I think about 80,000 of them have served in the United States -- excuse me, 800 of them have served in the United States military. These are people that were first responders, people that are teachers. This is a group of people who are showing every single day their commitment to their country, their service to the country and their willingness to sacrifice. I can't leave those folks behind. I cannot leave them behind.
HAYES: The President is tweeting about a DOJ report, and this is a tweet that they had this morning. Three out of four individuals convicted of international terrorism and terrorism-related offenses were foreign-born. What do you make of that? What do you make of the President trumpeting it at this hour?
BOOKER: I've seen him pull out a lot of the statistics that do not give a full picture, do not give context. As I got very upset with the Secretary of Homeland Security for not even talking about, not even addressing the fact that since 9/11 there's been 85 terrorist attacks, over 70 percent of them have been right-wing white nationalist groups that have been attacking Americans, African-Americans, Muslim Americans. And so there's no context to the President's words. To me, again, they reflect bias, they reflect ignorance and they reflect dangerous rhetoric.
They're trying to create a picture that does not give the fullness and the truth of the challenges we do have with security and safety in this country but also the importance to the success of our nation from having immigrants in our country. We're a nation built on immigrants. Innovators, business folks, teachers, first responders, we are a nation that is profoundly enriched because of immigration. And to change those positions right now risk what made us great over the last generations.
HAYES: All right, Senator Cory Booker, thank you.
BOOKER: Thank you very much.
HAYES: I'm joined now by Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida. Congressman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders today not denying the President said what he apparently said by all indications we have. Do you understand why the statement he said in that Oval Office is viewed as so offensive and hurtful by so many?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: I do. I also understand that the President believed that it was a meeting he was having behind closed doors. It wasn't something he was doing in front of cameras. And look, the conditions in some countries really are bad. Now a -- it is not a consequence of people there but it's a consequence of governance systems and really a systemic failure.
HAYE: Right, but if I called and you'll forgive me for using the language of the President, but if I called Okaloosa County a shithole, you'd understandably be upset with that, right?
GAETZ: Yes, I could also prove you wrong because I could bring you to Okaloosa County and show you that it's the home of the most beautiful beaches in America. I don't know that in Haiti they can make the same claim.
HAYES: But the -- what do you mean by that though? So you think it is. You agree with the President's characterization?
GAETZ: I agree Haiti is a place where the people have been very unfortunately disadvantaged as a consequence of long-term corrupt governments and I can't say that I see that it's getting much better.
HAYES: Well, you said is that --
GAETZ: I probably wouldn't use the term the President use but --
HAYES: You said Okaloosa, you could refute that but if you brought me to Haiti, you can't refute that it is. Here's my question for you. If that's your understanding of the condition Haiti is in which of course is the reason for TPS to begin with, what relationship does that have to merit? Because it seems to me there's a real conceptual fish sewer here. If the idea of merit is the merit is of the person independent of the place they're coming from, but if the President objected based on the condition of the countries, that can't connect back to merit, can't it?
GAETZ: Well, I think the President is objecting as a consequence to those countries not contributing to the immigration process in America in a way that that benefits our country principally. The President indicated we're going to have an America first immigration agenda --
HAYES: Wait a second. But to you --
GAETZ: -- not an agenda that looks at the needs of other people in another countries before the needs of Americans.
HAYES: So you don't think the Haitians are contributing?
GAETZ: I think there are many circumstances in which Haitians immigrants in the state of Florida do contribute. They build businesses and are a vital part of our state. There are also a number of instances where they don't, just like immigrants from any other country. I think it's very dangerous to overgeneralize the broader contributions of people solely based on national origin.
HAYES: Right or to generalize by referring to a country or an entire continent in the terms of the President did, which is also an overgeneralization.
GAETZ: I would not pick those terms. But I would say that the conditions in Haiti are deplorable, they are disgusting. I mean, everywhere you look in Haiti, it's sheet metal and garbage when I was there.
HAYES: I think you should think maybe, I would suggest why people would find that kind of characterization of the place where people live and have pride and love of the place they're from as derogatory.
GAETZ: Look --
HAYES: I mean, wasn't that true -- wasn't that true of Ireland in the 1830s?
GAETZ: I wasn't there, Chris. But I mean.
HAYES: But you've read from history books, Congressman.
GAETZ: Sure. I would say look, there are a number of circumstances where people have come from disadvantaged places and made a contribution to the United States. That will continue to happen. But I don't think that one off the cuff comment by the President should derail the work of the Congress in finding a broader immigration solution. Democrats have used this as an example to distract from the important policy work.
HAYES: Wait, but his is -- I've heard this before and I get real confused on this. It was a Democratic President that implemented DACA, correct?
HAYES: Republicans voted en masse for Steve King's amendment in the House to get rid of DACA. The Republican president was the one who rescinded DACA, correct.
HAYES: The Republican Party stands against the DACA policy. Correct? I imagine you do, as well.
GAETZ: Yes, I don't support the DACA policy. I think we need a border security agenda that is the principle centerpiece of immigration policy.
HAYES: That's right. So --
GAETZ: I think that's what most Republicans and most Americans would agree with.
HAYES: Precisely --
GAETZ: By the way, if this last election was about DACA, Hillary Clinton would have won it. This last election was about border security and that's why Donald Trump won, that's why we should do border security before we do DACA.
HAYES: So you think we should stick to the President's promises.
GAETZ: Of course. I mean, I think we all campaign in poetry and govern in propose, not any politician achieves every objective that they have. But yes, I think that from the President's standpoint, we ought to have the border security first. And then, I think you'd be surprised how many Republicans would be willing to work with Democrats on solutions for people who already are here in the country if we secure the boarder.
HAYES: So if that's true and if this is a sort of referendum issue for electorate as you contend it is, shouldn't Democrats then insist the President lives up to the promise that makes Mexico pay for the wall that he said they would?
GAETZ: Hey, we're all for finding solutions to have Mexico contribute to the wall funding. We actually --
HAYES: He didn't say -- he didn't say contribute though.
GAETZ: Well, OK. Well, pay for it. There are proposals in the Congress that would do that. I'm sponsoring one with Mike Rogers that would tax the remittances that people send back to Mexico and use that money to build the wall. I think there are a number of really good ideas where Mexico functionally ends up paying for the wall as a consequence of enhanced border security.
HAYES: Right, but -- so if Mexico is going to pay for the wall, then there's no reason to appropriate it from American taxpayer dollars if the reason the President won was because of his signature policy idea and promise which is that he would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it.
GAETZ: Well, sure, but we may have to front the money. But ultimately the economic benefit that comes to the United States would functionally be Mexico paying for the wall. That doesn't mean they have to write the first check. It means the economic consequence of the wall doesn't --
HAYES: I watched a lot of Donald Trump campaign speeches as I imagine you did. I never heard we'll front them the money in the campaign rhetoric. Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida thanks for joining me.
GAETZ: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Here with me now is MSNBC Contributor and Washington Post Columnist Jennifer Rubin. First of all, it seemed that what happened today is a classic sort of White House move in which people go out on a limb like Tom Cotton and Senator Perdue to say oh, the President didn't say these words and then Sarah Huckabee Sanders basically says effectively, well, yes, he did. And then the DHS Secretary goes under oath and I think it's very hard to conclude she's not lying when she says I just don't remember it.
JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, welcome back and congratulations, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you.
RUBIN: Yes, when you say you don't remember something and do you remember something and you're under oath, have you perjured yourself or at the very least committed a crime under federal law by lying to Congress. I cannot believe that the President used that language and she couldn't remember what it was. She just knows it was tough. Come on. She also remembers apparently Lindsey Graham using tough language just because he repeated the President's phrase and said, I came from an s-hole country, as well. So, I think she's being completely disingenuous. And today I wrote that she should go back to her office, think long and hard about whether she wants her career to be characterized by perjury and what's she doing in an administration anyway where one of her duties is to lie about the President's expresses racism.
So I think that was a train wreck for her today and I think as far as Senators Perdue and Cotton go, they've disqualified themselves for any confirmable office. I think their colleagues should disbelieve just about everything they have to say at this point. But I thought the Congressman's interview was fascinating, Chris, because that is the fundamental premise of these people. That you have to be a European white already wealthy person to contribute to the United States. That's wrong. That's wrong morally. That's wrong factually, it's wrong historically. And yet, that is the view that they hold forth. And they do want to make this country more white. Unfortunately, the ideal they talk about this country is not all men were created equal but some mythical white Christian America.
That's the America that they want to see. And they see every single person who does not meet that characteristic, not meet that description as somehow diluting as somehow worsening this country. It is the most heinous, the most offensive philosophy I have ever heard in my lifetime coming from the Oval Office. Whatever criticisms I have of whatever presidents pale in comparison to the racism and the bigotry that we have heard and the ignorance that we have heard from these people. They also assume by the way that if you come from Africa you're less educated than if you come from Norway. Wrong. It turns out that West Africans, in particular, are some of the most highly educated immigrants. But why would they think that? Why would they think that Africans are not educated? Could it be because they're dark-skinned?
HAYES: As someone noted, Norway is not a skill that a person can bring to the United States of America. Jennifer Rubin, thank you.
RUBIN: You're welcome.
HAYES: Next, how bad does Steve Bannon's testimony on Capitol Hill go today? Well, it started as voluntary, then he was served a subpoena as he sat there. Congressman Adam Schiff is just out of that hearing just a few moments ago. He says the White House is trying to gag the witnesses. And he will be with me here in two minutes. Do not go anywhere.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bannon, who from the White House asked you to invoke executive privilege?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did the meeting go, Mr. Bannon?
BANNON: It's great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Bannon, what did they ask you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bannon, what did they ask you in there? What did they ask you in there Mr. Bannon?
BANNON: Great day. Thanks, guys.
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HAYES: Steve Bannon woke up this morning facing one subpoena. He's going to bed tonight facing a second. Today we learned that Bannon is the first person in President Trump's inner circle to receive a grand jury subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation. Mueller's team has interviewed about a dozen administration officials but without use of a grand jury subpoena. The news broke while Bannon happened to be on Capitol Hill today appearing before the House Intel Committee and there got another subpoena. The White House directed Bannon not to answer questions about his time in the White House or the transition period -- transition prompting the Republican Chairman of the Committee to issue a subpoena on the spot.
Bannon was then questioned for 9 1/2 hours and the hearing only just ended. That's him leaving as you see. Congresswoman Adam Schiff is a Ranking Member of that Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. And let me begin with this. I do not really understand what happened today. So if you could explain. I mean, Bannon was called before the committee and what happened when he got there in the beginning?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes, he was brought before the committee on a voluntary basis but he quickly informed through his counsel, the committee he was not going to answer questions that pertained to meetings, conversations, events, et cetera, that took place either during the transition or while he was part of the administration. And what's more, we would later learn that would be extended to even after he left the White House concerning conversations that he may have had with the President. This was characterized as a result of his being there voluntary. He's there of his own volition and therefore could refuse to answer questions based on what the White House instructed him to do.
We then were able to be promptly provide him with a subpoena and they went back to the White House and got the same instruction back again basically. We don't care whether it's under compulsory process or voluntary basis, we're instructing you effectively putting in place a gag rule saying you can't talk about what happened while you were in the transition team or part of the transition or in the White House. Now, there is no privilege that broad, obviously. And the way they were instructed not to answer questions included not only questions among people within the administration or among people within the transition but even when he talked to people outside of the administration. So apparently, he was able to talk to people outside the administration and not be gagged but when it comes to telling Congress about those conversations, the White House wanted him to refuse and he did.
HAYES: But I'm confused because is this a formal invocation of executive privilege by the White House?
SCHIFF: No, I mean, this is the broadest effort to effectively gag a witness that we have seen in the past. We have had a witness that might refuse to answer a question about a specific conversation with the President and claim well, we want to preserve the White House's ability to invoke a privilege down the road. Now, we don't recognize that either but we have not been able to prevail upon the majority to follow-up by subpoenaing these people and when they were subpoenaed, insisting on an answer.
Here was a very different situation. It wasn't merely a conversation with the President that they sought to preserve some later claim of privilege but rather any conversation that took place during the time on the transition and any conversation meeting, whatever, we couldn't even ask about were you present at this meeting without getting on the advice of the White House, I'm not going to answer. So it was as broad a claim as you could make not founded on a particular privilege but founded on the, we'd rather you don't answer those questions because maybe later, we'd want to exert some privilege over something.
HAYES: I'll make sure that I'm tracking this. He comes in, he says under the advice of the direction of the White House, he's not going to answer questions in this huge portfolio of issues. The majority, the Chairman then issues a subpoena. He goes back to the White House. They say we're still directing you the same way. He's there for 9 1/2 hours. Was it just the committee asking him questions and him then not answering based on that invocation of this incredibly broad sense of a privilege?
SCHIFF: Well, actually, we asked him whatever series of questions that we had that predated his time on the transition team and in the administration so we were able to ask him about things that happened during the campaign. But then, a lot of this was taken up as we would recess so that they could seek further advice of the White House. But also was establishing the record, we need to ask him specific questions, have him decline to answer them on the record since he was now under compulsory process because the way we can compel that now is having a record that if necessary we can take to court.
HAYES: Do you think -- did you know already about the grand jury subpoena of Mr. Bannon prior to the news breaking today?
SCHIFF: The first we learned of a potential subpoena before the Special Council or the grand jury was when a news clipping was brought into the committee room. So no, if those reports are accurate, that's something I only learned about in the press report.
HAYES: And whatever refusals he gave to you presumably would not extend to the Special Counsel, right? I mean, can he just do the same thing in front of Mueller's investigators?
SCHIFF: My view is no. This is -- this is an essential global gag rule when it comes to anything during the transition, anything during the White House and a lot that happened after the White House. That's never going to fly with the Special Counsel. It shouldn't fly with us. I don't think it's going to fly with us. We have asked him to return to the committee in short order. But no, I don't think that's going to work with Special Counsel. I don't think the privilege is that broad or anything like it and I don't think that he can -- the White House can use that to shield him from our questions either.
HAYES: I just want to be clear here. Your committee has talked to a lot of the witnesses. You've been slogging through a lot of intention tension back and forth. What happened today has never happened before. Am I correct?
SCHIFF: that's absolutely true. And you know, I don't know that I can account for the reason why the majority is handling this situation as so much differently than in the past because we have had other witnesses refuse to answer a much narrower category of questions but still, we have sought subpoenas from the majority and they've been unwilling. When the witnesses were subpoenaed and they refused to answer questions, we've sought to use compulsory process and they've been unwilling. So this was very different in kind. I'm not sure I can explain why, but I do applaud it. I think this is the way our Committee ought to undertake to get answers from reluctant witnesses or reluctant White House.
HAYES: So final question. You're going to have him come back, right?
HAYES: And I mean, then what?
SCHIFF: Well, I imagine this is the way it's going to go. They're going to go back to the White House. They're going to now say look, we were subpoenaed to come in on your advice. We declined to answer all these questions. Now I'm going to speculate here about what Mr. Bannon's attorney is going to say, but I think counsel is going to understand that's not sustainable. I think the White House is going to understand that. So my guess is that they're going to try to come back and narrow their refusal to cooperate to a more limited set of questions. But frankly, unless they invoke privilege, which they have not done, there is no basis for this witness or any other to refuse to answer our questions. So the next step after that is if the White House takes the unreasonable position or the witness refuses to answer, we would have to go to court to compel him.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you for making time tonight.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
HAYES: Natasha Bertrand, Political Correspondent from Business Insider has been covering this story quite carefully. That's -- what do you make of that?
NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: That's really remarkable. I mean, just the fact that the Republicans on the Committee have never before felt compelled to issue a subpoena to a witness who has kind of invoked executive privilege in this way or has refused to answer questions, but for Steve Bannon they felt the need to, apparently Mike Conaway and Trey Gowdy were really, really frustrated with Steve Bannon, the fact that he just kept saying over and over again I can't answer these questions.
I think it's really telling that Steve Bannon actually told congress, hey, I would like to answer these question, but the White House essentially put a gag order on me. That really seems to undermine the White House's argument that, hey, Steve Bannon really was a marginal player here. He didn't know anything about the goings on of the White House.
If that was true, then why is the White House so concerned about he could possibly tell them?
HAYES: My big take away from what I just heard, and again this is all just breaking in the last little bit amount of time, he was in that hearing room for nine-and-a-half hours. He came out. We saw him just moments ago walking to his car where Adam Schiff comes out. Is that once again, it seems that they have drawn a huge red arrow pointing to the importance of the thing that they're keeping inside the black box they won't let anyone see.
BERTRAND: Exactly, it's exactly what the White House did with the Fire and Fury book. They said don't look at this. Don't look at this. And then of course everyone had to look at it. It's the same thing. What is the White House so concerned about Steve Bannon telling lawmakers?
And now I think we're also seeing why Mueller felt compelled to issue a subpoena to Steve Bannon.
HAYES: Well, that's the other question I want to ask you about. What do you take is the significance of that news today which is interesting insofar as we don't think he's used that particular tool in his toolkit with someone that close to the president as of yet.
BERTRAND: There are a number of different theories, according to legal experts I've spoken to. The first is that just basically Mueller wants to catch him without his counsel present. It's a much more intense environment, it's much more nerve wracking. It's much easier to catch him in a lie, for example.
The second theory, and this is something that's actually shared pretty widely among people I spoke to, is that they want Steve Bannon essentially to be able to testify freely. They want him to essentially be divorced from the criticism that could possibly come from the White House by saying, hey, you agreed to voluntarily be interviewed by Mueller. You agreed to a sitdown interview. Whereas now he can say, no, I was actually forced to testify.
HAYES: It's like giving him cover.
BERTRAND: Exactly. It's giving him cover. And I think that that is also maybe what congress wanted to do today by issuing a subpoena. They wanted him to have cover in order to testify freely.
HAYES: One of the things we haven't seen yet, and it's a big difference between Watergate, where Democrats obviously were in the majority, we haven't seen the congressional committees go to war with the White House about this stuff. There's been some fights. There's been some negotiations. There's been some criticism that's come particularly on the Senate side from Richard Burr. But we haven't seen real escalation. And today seems like the first time we've seen something like that.
BERTRAND: It's really interesting. And I wonder if it would constitute some kind of obstruction or witness tampering or anything like that, because we just have to see how it plays out I mean in terms of whether the congress goes back to the White House you have to narrow the scope of what you say is covered by executive privilege. And then Steve Bannon, of course, seems like he's very, very willing to testify. He seems like he has a story to tell. He's been very, very critical of the Trump compaign's meeting with the Russians. He's been very critical of, you know, the fact that Jared Kushner met with Russian officials even during the transition period.
So, there's clearly a reason why the White House doesn't want him to talk about anything that happened during the transition, because that is when a lot of the kind of shady Russian contacts happened.
HAYES: OK, Natasha Bertrand, thank you.
BERTRAND: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Still to come, after mounting questions about the president's physical and mental health today, we finally got some answers. The results after this quick break.
HAYES: Today, for the first time ever, we got an official look at the state of President Trump's health. Despite his junk food diet and lack of exercise, the White House physician says he is in great physical shape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RONNY JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: In summary, the president's overall health is excellent. His cardiac performance during his physical exam was very good. He continues to enjoy the significant long-term cardiac and overall health benefits that come from a lifetime of abstinence from tobacco and alcohol.
He has incredibly good genes. And it's just the way god made him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In an unusual move, White House physician Ronny Jackson, who was there during the Obama administration, as well, also released details about the president's mental acutity, an issue of particular importance since the book Fire and Fury raised new questions about his mental state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: I was not going to do a cognitive exam. I had no intention of doing one. The reason that we did the cognitive assessment is plain and simple because the president asked me to do it.
We picked one of the ones that was a little bit more involved. It was longer, it was the more difficult one of all of them. It took significantly longer to complete. But the president did exceedingly well on it. So, that was not driven at all by clinical concerns I have. It was driven by the president's wishes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: To recap, according to the official White House doctor, the president is in excellent physical health for a 71-year-old with no cognitive impairment.
So, why then does he act the way he does? David Cay Johnsson has been covering Donald Trump for over three decades. He has a new book out today called "It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America."
And I thought of you, David, and I wanted to talk to you, because as I was on paternity leave, I was watching the Fire and Fury news cycle. And there was all this talk about sort of cognitive decline, and is he, you know, early dementia. The doctor was quite unambiguous today in saying that he ran this test on him as the president asked and saw no evidence of it. What did you make of that?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, JOURNALIST: Well, I'm somewhat surprised, because having known Donald for 30 years, he used to talk in coherent sentences. And now it's all adjectives. It's terrific, it's great, it's beautiful. And he sometimes can't piece together a logical sentence. And he's had episodes of things like not recognizing Rudy Guiliani, although, we all have things like that happen to us from time to time.
HAYES: So you -- this is interesting to me. Because you have covered the man for decades.
HAYES: You feel like you've seen changes in him.
JOHNSTON: Well, I'm almost Donald's age. I know that can't do things I could do when I was young. I used to multiply four digits by four digits as a parlor game. I can't do that anymore.
HAYES: So -- but, right. But what you're saying is that sort of changes over time that are in the normal parameters as opposed to something that is, you know, that he is mentally unfit, 25th amendment, all things like that.
JOHNSTON: Well, there's a second element to this. I mean, understand that Donald is to use the vernacular, as he likes to use it, a jerk. And he's always been a jerk. You know, I spoke to a kid who Donald used to throw rocks at his playpen in Queens when Donald was a boy. It was the kinds of incidents like that that led his father to ship him off to a military academy, because he was always getting into trouble and being a troublemaker.
But Donald by his own account gets pleasure from making other people miserable. And...
HAYES: He has said this. He has written this and he said it.
JOHNSTON: He has written it. He has said it repeatedly. There are videotapes of him. It's in one of his books. And, you know, that's just not normal human behavior.
In addition, Donald doesn't know things. He's unbelievably appallingly ignorant. There's lots of incidents my book that's out today has a number of examples of this. And Michael Wolff, bless his soul, confirmed a lot of what was in my previous book about Donald with the conversations in the White House.
But when Donald doesn't know something, he just makes it up. He just makes it up.
HAYES: So this gets -- I think it gets to the sort of profound question, right, because there's this way in which people have watched the president's behavior, they've watched the tweeting. They've watched what seems to be erratic, compulsive behavior and there is this kind of urge to medicalize, urge to diagnose, urge to say there's got to be something wrong with him as opposed to this is the person that he is. These are the character traits that he possesses.
JOHNSTON: Well, -- I mean, I've said that I'm not a doctor, but I can see that he is not the sharp mind that he was when I first met him. But on the other hand, his power as president has brought out all of his bullying instincts. Donald has no regard for other people, that's the most important thing to understand about him. You know, as I write in the book, we've had 44 presidents, some of them corrupt, some of them great, some of them middling.
HAYES: Some of them awful.
JONSTON: Some of them awful. I mean, there have been a whole mix of -- but all of them did things they thought would make America better.
Donald Trump's presidency is about one thing, it is about the glorification of Donald Trump, period, full stop. That's all it's about. And we need to recognize everything he does has to do not with policy, to put Donald Trump and policy in the same sentence, you know, is ridiculous.
HAYES: Do you think -- one thing that has struck me is that it is very hard to figure out what the animating goal and purpose of this administration at this moment is. In the first year, they had the ACA repeal which failed, they had the tax cut bill which passed. What are they trying to do?
JOHNSTON: Well, I don't think overall they're trying to do anything. I mean, that's part of the problem is that other than what Steve Bannon brought people in and got Trump to appoint along with others and that is to destroy the government.
In the book, I refer to what I call political termites. Termites are eating away at the structure of your house. You may not know it until really serious damage is done. And they are systematically doing damage to our government and to our massive investments in people and diplomacy, public health, a whole variety of other fields, that isn't being noticed because it's going on out of sight.
HAYES: Right. The book is called "Worse Than You Think." David Cay Johnston is the author. Thank you for your time.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, will Republicans force a government shutdown despite being in control of the White House and both houses of congress?
And, next, what the Republican defense of Donald Trump looks like when you try it out on actual voters. Tonight's Thing One, Thing Two is next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, earlier we played for you the Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defending President Trump's comments on immigration, which led to Secretary Nielsen claiming under oath she did not know Norway's population is mainly white.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VERMONT: What does he mean when he says he wants more immigrants from Norway?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I don't believe he said that specifically. What he was saying was using Norway as example of a country that is what he was specifically referring to is the prime minister telling him that the people of Norway work very hard.
LEAHY: Norway is a predominantly white country, isn't it?
NIELSEN: I -- I actually do not know that, sir, but I imagine that is the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Here's the thing, Trump's racist comments aren't only putting cabinet members in uncomfortable spots. On Sunday, a roomful of red state Iowa voters laughed in the face of Republican senator trying to defend the president. That video is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Days after President Trump reportedly called African nations s- holes and suggested America should bring more people from places like Norway, Republican Senator Joni Ernst is defending him at town halls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taking a stand or doing something about the damage that Trump is doing to our neighbors around the world with his white supremacy talk.
. JONI ERNST, (R) IOWA: he is standing up for a lot of the countries where we have seen...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Name a few. Could you name a few.
ERNST: Yeah, you bet. Norway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Norway?
ERNST: Is one of them.
No, well, OK. How many of you think...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joni Ernst did have a response to that laughter, arguing Norway can see Russia from their window.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNST: He is standing up for a lot of the countries that where we have seen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Name a few. Could you name a few?
ERNST: Yeah, you bet. Norway is one of them.
No, well, OK how many of you think -- you know, you laugh but folks, who borders Norway? Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Two weeks can feel like a year, just take all the news that happened in the two weeks I was gone on paternity leave. Michael Wolff dropped the year's first political tell all which Steve Bannon called Don Junior's Trump Tower meeting with the Russians treasonist, which lead to the president giving Bannon the nickname Sloppy Steve. I wasn't here for that. Or for Bannon losing his job at Breitbart News along with his radio show and the backing of the billionaire Mercer family.
I also missed the president declaring himself a "very stable genius," amid questions about mental fitness. That was just the first week.
In the second week away, I missed the news about the president's Oval Office slurs and I missed the story about how the president's lawyer arranged $130,000 in hush money to keep former adult film star Stormy Daniels from talking about an affair she had with the president in 2006.
But because there's always a ceaseless flow of news stories in the Trump era, I returned just in time for Congress to shut down the government. We'll talk about that next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: Unless Congress gets it together, the government will shut down at midnight this Friday. According to NBC News, Senate and House Republicans are trying to avoid this fate by passing yet another short-term continuing resolution.
With me now, Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, and Michelle Goldberg, columnist for The New York Times.
Senator, let me start with you since you served in that body. You heard Cory Booker --
BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA: For a long time, 24 years, yeah.
HAYES: For 24 years. You heard Cory Booker say there is no vote for me without a DACA deal. I see pressure from the grassroots and from all sorts of folks not to bail the Republicans out without a continuing resolution. What's your read on what Democrats should do?
BOXER: Such a simple straightforward way, and that would be for Mitch McConnell to take this bipartisan solution that Dick Durban's been working on, Jeff Flake, others, Lindsay and the rest, and get the bill on the floor and take care of the kids.
Here is the situation, it's not only the moral thing to do, that's for sure. Kids brought here through no fault of their own. They are terrific and they are adding to the economy all over this country. So to take up a budget bill that doesn't deal with the D.R.E.A.M.E.R.S. makes no sense.
So why doesn't the Senate and the house, they should be, the Congress, they should take up bills. Forget what Trump says. One day he says I'm with ya and got your back, I want to build that love and the next day he's using curse words to describe immigrants, which is the biggest insult and frankly, I think a sin against God, whatever your religion is. So you can't trust him, so go to the people who have the solutions.
HAYES: That's a good point that like, I mean, it's a great point. Mitch McConnell could put it up to a vote, see if it passes.
BOXER: Supposed to do that.
HAYES: Yeah, and get the ball rolling. There is this weird kind of lame bad Jedi mind trick the White House is playing where they are trying to sew the seeds that it's the Democrats fault if the government shuts down. There's the Trump tweet the Democrats want to shut down the government over amnesty for all and border security. DACA is probably dead because Democrats doesn't want it.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. They are probably hoping it will play the same way Ted Cruz' government shut down over Obamacare played even though there are really significant differences, one of which is that Republicans control the entire government.
I mean, granted they need some democratic votes to pass something in the Senate, but it's not even clear that they can pass something with their own votes in the house where they need a simple majority so it's -- I hope that Democrats don't let themselves get siked out, which I think is their tendency to think what if they really do blame us for shutting down on the government, instead of doing -- nobody really knows how this will play out politically, so do the right thing.
HAYES: Senator, I guess that's my question to you, if McConnell doesn't bring it up and Republicans hatch this plan to kick the can down the road which they keep doing, the government is funded by C.R. after C.R., after C.R., what should Democrats do? Should they basically filibuster it?
BOXER: I think Democrats should use their bully pull pit, even though this say one-half party rule, we control nothing, they can try to blame everything on us, but they control everything. They need to be swept out but that's another story. While they control everything, whatever happens is their fault.
So Democrats should ask unanimous consent to bring up that compromise, that I think it is a terrific compromise on DACA that my former colleagues have come up and just force that vote, force it. Go through the night.
BOXER: And while they are at it, they ought to look at the C.H.I.P. Program. We have millions of children, babies who are waiting to get their insurance. We've got business to do. Forget working with Trump. You don't know which man you're going to meet which day or which hour. Will it be the one that curses at you or the one that talks about love? You just don't know.
HAYES: One of the things I just mentioned in what I missed, which is a story that wasn't the top ten I missed, that the president's lawyer paid off an adult film star, $130,000 on the eve of the election to keep her quiet about an affair that she had a year after he married the first lady of the United States, which people admit at this point, not my point, almost any other administration in any other time in the last 40 years would be an earth-shattering revelation.
GOLDBERG: Right. I wrote a column how this marks the right wing on that part of the culture wars they fought during Bill Clinton in which they say yes, any behavior of any level is totally fine with us as long as it didn't break the law. But I also think --
HAYES: As an official position.
GOLDBERG: Right. But I also think to bring it back, an activist mentioned this to me today and it's interesting that this extremely salacious story didn't get -- it wasn't explosive in the way, I don't know what we're calling it, the s-hole comments were. That outraged people and really shocked people and sort of clarified the fact that this administration wants to undermine what we thought were some of the fundamental principles of this country in a way that this other story, it didn't shock people in the same way. It's pretty much what we expect from this administration.
HAYES: There is a degree to which, Senator, that the expectations of the office are and the behavior are pretty low at this point.
BOXER: We knew this. We knew what he said on the Access Hollywood tape, how he views women. But I'll tell you what deserves a lot more attention than that, I find it shocking, story of this porn star. Put that aside. The 19 women or the 20 women, I don't know how many, that said that he actually harassed them and worse.
BOXER: This cannot go without an investigation. We know what happened with Bill Clinton. He got impeached. And this guy has 19 or 20 women that say he attacked them.
HAYES: We'll see if there is a nexus between them and there was a non- disclosure agreements signed for things that were not consensual.
Senator Barbara Boxer and Michelle Goldberg, thanks for joining us tonight.
Before we go, a few people that I need to thank. To both Joy Reid and Ari Melber, I cannot thank you enough not only for taking such great care of this show in my absence but for giving me the time to spend with my new daughter Anya. That's her. The last two weeks have been total bliss from helping Ryan with her homework at the dinner table, to watching Star Wars with David who insists I now speak to him in only a bad Darth Vader voice, to seeing them both embrace thir new sister, the time has been invaluable. And to Kate, who is the most remarkable mother, spouse and human being I know and could ever know, thank you.
That is All In for this evening, the Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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