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Stormy Daniels and Trump NDA's Transcript 1/17/18 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Philip Bump, Cornell Belcher, Noam Cohen, Mazie Hirono, Will Hurd, Pete Aguilar

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 17, 2018 Guest: Philip Bump, Cornell Belcher, Noam Cohen, Mazie Hirono, Will Hurd, Pete Aguilar



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.

HAYES: The President rejects a bipartisan solution to the problem he created that he said he would sign.

TRUMP: I mean, I will be signing it. I`m not going to say, oh, gee, I want this or I want that. I`ll be signing it.

HAYES: Tonight the looming shutdown and the Democratic plan to call the President`s bluff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what`s your message to the DREAMers?

HAYES: Then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bannon, what did they ask you in there.

HAYES: The White House admits they were on the phone with Steve Bannon during his Russia hearing testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the White House afraid of what Steve Bannon might say?

HAYES: What we know about what Bannon said and how he reportedly slipped up.

And as Stormy Daniels goes on the record, just how big a problem is it for the President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The town is growing higher and higher of porn actresses.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Last May, President Trump proclaimed the country, and I quote the President here, "needs a good shutdown." Tonight, he has brought the country to the brink of that very event and suddenly, it doesn`t seem like such a good idea after all. It`s been a week since that televised negotiation in which he promised for all the world to hear as the camera rolled to sign whatever DACA deal the bipartisan group working on compromise arrived at.


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 or I want that. I`ll be signing it.


HAYES: That seemed clear. But after totally rejecting that deal, the deal they came back with and throwing in some world shocking racist invective for good measure, Senate Democrats are plowing forward without the President today introducing the bipartisan bill that the President himself rejected.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: This agreement gives President Trump every single penny that he asked for, for border security in his budget request. Almost $1.6 billion for construction on the border of barriers and all sorts of fences and whatever else is need even walls. This was not easy. We came to this agreement and we sent it over and had it drafted. It will be introduced this afternoon. The original three sponsors on the Republican side will be joined by three more.


HAYES: Without a spending deal, the government will shut down Friday at midnight and without a DACA deal, 800,000 DREAMers face possible deportation after March 5th thanks to one man`s decision, President Trump`s decision to end DACA. Now today, Capitol police arrested 82 people seeking to prevent those deportations in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building. Republicans want to pass a short-term bill to fund the government without any protections for those 800,000 people. But many Democrats are refusing to play along unless the DREAMers are protected.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The overwhelming number in our caucus have said they don`t like this deal and they believe if we kick a can down the road, this time, we`ll be back where we started from next time. So there`s very, very strong support not to go along with their deal.


HAYES: For his part, President Trump is attempting to place the blame for the possible shutdown on anyone but himself. Today he described the bipartisan deal that again he said he would sign on live television that he then changed his mind and rejected, the one that included all the money he asked for on border security. He described that same deal as horrible on border security adding it`s the opposite of what I campaigned for. Trump was reportedly pressured not to sign the deal by immigration restriction hardliners including John Kelly and Stephen Miller. Today Kelly, the man who infamously lied to smear Representative Frederica Wilson went to Capitol Hill to meet with Congressional Democrats. A meeting that reportedly ended with no resolution to what exactly the administration wants in exchange for a deal on DACA.

According to Washington Post, Trump`s Chief of Staff also made a stark admission that the United States will never construct a physical wall along the entire stretch of the U.S./Mexico border and that some of President Trump`s campaign promises on immigration were "uninformed." The bipartisan bill introduced today to protect the DREAMers and keep the government open would likely have enough votes to pass. The Republican Senator Mitch McConnell in what sure looks like an attempt to protect the President politically is refusing to allow a vote.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I`m looking for something that President Trump supports and he`s not yet indicated what measure he`s willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just be spinning our wheels going to this issue on floor but actually dealing with a bill that has a chance to become law and therefore, solve the problem.


HAYES: Joining me now, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. You`re shaking your head Senator, why?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Well, we have a bipartisan bill we could have passed a long time ago to resolve the situation. And I was there on Tuesday when the President said you bring me a bipartisan bill, I`ll support it. You know what, for Mitch McConnell to say that he`s waiting for the President to make up his mind, we should live so long. In the meantime, there are two groups of people who are going face dire consequences if we don`t do something quickly and of course, the DREAMers, 800,000 of them and then there are also the people who are on temporary protective status, the El Salvadorans, who -- 200,000 of them could be deported. So this compromise measure that Durbin-Graham measure would address both of these concerns. But you know, it`s been tough. But nonetheless, there`s a bipartisan deal and I`m glad that you reminded everybody that it is the President who said maybe we need a good government shutdown so I can have my wall.

HAYES: Well, the idea is that Democrats if there`s a shutdown, the White House is basically trying to set the terms that the Democrats are responsible. And at one level, it would be, the Democrats in the Senate would have to hold enough votes -- withhold enough votes to hold the line here to not pass something that doesn`t have DACA protections. You have Joe Manchin saying something like I think everyone has the empathy and compassion who want to help these young people, referring to the DREAMers who are stranded. We`re trying to find that but shutting down the government is not going to help them. Can you hold the line on this?

HIRONO: I know where I am. I`ve been very consistent in wanting four things in any measure that brings this forward. One, we need to have the DACA protections. We need to fund the community health centers. Millions of our families go to community health centers. We need to fund the children`s health program, 9 million children rely upon that and we need -- number four, parity between the defense and nondefense side. So I will not be supporting a measure that do not have these four items and believe me, whatever the House is going to send to us will not have those four.

And so, I think it`s really sad that when you think about it, the people who are in the majority who set the agenda, the Republicans who control both the House, the Senate as well as the Presidency, they are very busy trying to convince the American public that they are not responsible for any government shutdown. They have created this situation. They have created the situation and I think the American people are wising up to the fact that this kind of fake news coming from the President or fake positions, they`re not going to buy.

HAYES: What do you -- what do you make of -- I mean, you are not the first individual to sit across from Donald Trump and have him say one thing only to learn that he has changed his position later. But what do you make of sitting there while he said basically, I mean, you had an interaction with him where he said I`ll sign whatever you bring back. And now he`s calling the deal horrible.

HIRONO: It just goes to show that the President is very mercurial. And when you mentioned Steve Miller and Kelly, you know, it`s like they`re two (INAUDIBLE) whispering in his ear and to Donald Trump`s Othello. And we know how badly that all turned out.

HAYES: Do you think -- do you think the Chief of Staff, John Kelly, shares the views of Stephen Miller on immigration? Do you think he shares the President`s views of certain countries as he so colorfully articulated them in that meeting?

HIRONO: I`m pretty sure that his Chief of Staff is a very hard line person on immigration. I`ve had discussions with him when he was Secretary of Homeland Security and that was definitely the conclusion I drew. He can be really good on some of the other areas but I believe that on immigration, he`s a real hardliner. And I`m pretty sure that he told the President this is a bad deal. And so the President has no problems going back on his word where millions of people in our country, including you, heard him say right out of his mouth.

HAYES: Senator Mazie Hirono, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

HIRONO: Thank you. Aloha.

HAYES: Joining me two members of the House who today introduced a competing DACA and border security bill. Republican Will Hurd of Texas and Democratic Pete Aguilar of California. Congressman Hurd, let me start with you. First of all, on the President`s comments in that meeting, do you condemn, do you disavow those comments?

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Yes, I wasn`t there in the meeting first off. I think you know, any of those kinds of comments aren`t helpful to creating an environment in which we can actually get things done. I`m focused on working with my colleagues and that`s why I`ve been excited to work with Pete Aguilar on solving this problem. Let`s have a DACA fix and let`s have some strong border security and get this done and move on to other issues.

HAYES: Congressman Aguilar, the House GOP is already saying that House Democrats such as yourself who the last time I checked and I could be wrong are in the minority in the House, I believe that`s correct, that you are responsible for an impending shutdown and you don`t care about CHIP recipients if the House GOP can`t pass a C.R. here.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes, I mean, absolutely. It`s just not accurate. The responsibility of the majority is to govern. And so clearly that`s what we need to see here. But even when it comes to shut down, I mean, Republicans, 90 of them voted against the C.R. in September. So the obligation for Republicans in majority is to -- is to govern and to put up those votes and we`ll see shortly if they -- if they have those votes.

HAYES: There was something called the Hastert Rule that guided the House, Congressman Hurd for a long time. And basically, it required that a majority of the Republican caucus, the majority of the majority support a piece of legislation for it to come to the floor. I am willing to bet that the proposal you and Congressman Aguilar have come up with would pass in the next five minutes if you moved it to the floor just there. But I doubt it has a majority of the Republican caucus supporting it. So it`s dead in the water, right?

HURD: I wouldn`t say it`s dead in the water. This is something that we`ve had a lot of conversations with our colleagues about. And nobody has ever questioned the validity of how this is helpful for border security, how this is a good protection for the 1.2 million kids that have come here through no fault of their own. You know, folks are seeing other elements, what can actually -- what does the President want to see. There`s a lot of questions, but what we`ve tried to do is put together a thoughtful plan, start building a coalition, the fact that we have the 50 members, 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats, that have agreed this is a way forward is a good first step.

HAYES: Right. But -- I get that. But am I wrong, am I misunderstanding the math here? My understanding the math is you, Congressman Hurd, have to sell a majority of the Republican caucus or Paul Ryan is not going to let that thing see anywhere near the floor because it might pass which he doesn`t want unless a majority of Republicans support it.

HURD: Look, we are trying to get a majority of Republicans on this. We still have, you know, 50 hours to try to get this done before January 19th. This is something that we`re trying to build support so we can`t stop. It`s too important of an issue. And also as the Member of Congress who has more border than anybody else, I have over 820 miles of it, border security is important. We haven`t gotten operational control of our border. We should but we should do it in a smart way that leverages technology and manpower in order to ensure that we`re protecting our homeland.

HAYES: Congressman Aguilar, does your bill call for a wall to be built in Mexico to pay for it?

AGUILAR: It does not. So that piece of the campaign promise as we`ve -- as we`ve heard would not -- would not happen.

HAYES: So then how are you going to get the President to sign it if the marker that he put down in rejecting the Senate version of this is that it`s not what he campaigned on?

AGUILAR: Well, the President`s been all over the map on this. And you heard Senator McConnell mention that we just don`t have clear guidance. While I appreciate productive conversations, with Chief of Staff John Kelly earlier today on his legislative affairs team that was here up on the hill, you know, clearly we want to see more out of what the administration would like to see. But in the absence of that leadership, we have to show we`re a coequal branch of government. And that means that it`s our obligation to put something on the President`s desk as he mentioned. So that`s what we`ve tried to do here in a bipartisan thoughtful way. Let`s put a bill on the President`s desk that fixes DACA and adds a smart, sensible border security component and see what he does then.

HAYES: Congressman, you said that you have more of the border than anyone else in the United States Congress. My understanding is that net inflows have reached a low in the last 10 or 15 years if you look at that period of time. We`ve also increased border spending every year. If there`s fewer border crossings and less people coming over, why do we keep expanding the amount of money we spend on it?

HURD: Well, so in the last year, we have seen apprehensions decrease. But what you don`t know, you don`t know, you can`t calculate. We can`t see at any one point in time what is happening along our border. We know, for example, along our coast, the coast guard is only able to action 30 percent of the intelligence that they receive on drugs being smuggled into our country. That`s a pretty terrible number. So one, we should make sure we understand what`s coming back and forth. And again, I would rather use technology or a smart wall which only costs about half a million dollars a mile versus a 30-foot high concrete structure that requires $24.5 million a mile and for all those folks watching on T.V. that aren`t math majors, that`s a difference of $24 million a mile.

HAYES: Final question for you, Congressman Hurd, since I have you here. You`re on the House Intelligence Committee and you had a sort of remarkable experience yesterday in which Steve Bannon came in and his lawyer`s on the phone with the White House. He was subpoenaed there on the spot. Fellow members of that committee, Republican, and Democrat have expressed frustration with Bannon`s invocation of a very, very capacious executive privilege. Do you share that frustration?

HURD: I think that could have been better handled and better prepared before he came there. The American people deserve to understand and know what happened. And also, our conversation needs to be moving towards how do we prepare to deal with this in 2018. We`ve had a lot of conversations, we know the Russians try to erode trust in our democratic institutions. And what is our strategy to deal with this in 2018? And this is something also the only way to get it done in a bipartisan way and it requires more than just the federal government. We got to make sure state governments are involved and the private sector and academia dealing with covert disinformation campaigns. And so, we need to moving to that conversation because 2018 is just around the corner -- or 2018 elections is just around the corner.

HAYES: Representatives Will Hurd and Peter Aguilar, good luck in your quest to get a majority of the majority. Thanks to you both.

AGUILAR: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Next, what happened in the nearly ten hours Steve Bannon spent testifying behind closed doors. We talked about tonight details about the mid testimony phone calls to the White House and what Bannon reportedly let slip about that infamous Trump Tower meeting, that in two minutes.


HAYES: -- today about Steve Bannon`s testimony on Capitol Hill and what we now know is pretty remarkable. Bannon spoke yesterday as you may know, behind closed doors at the House Intelligence Committee. But today the A.P. is reporting that Bannon was less than forthcoming. The A.P. reports that Bannon`s attorney Bill Burke was asking the White House Counsel`s Office by phone during the Tuesday session whether his client could answer questions. Bannon`s lawyer was literally on the phone with the White House as Bannon was being questioned. Unsurprisingly, lawmakers on both sides were frustrated by Bannon`s appearance. The White House says the whole thing was just standard operating procedure.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOSUE: That`s the same process that is typically followed. Sometimes they actually have a White House Attorney present in the room. This time it was something that was relayed via phone. And again, was following standard procedure for an instance like this and something that will likely happen again on any other number of occasions not just within this administration but future administrations.


HAYES: It`s unclear whether this was, in fact, a typical process. We do know that even with all White House efforts to keep Bannon quiet, he still slipped at least once according to Axios, "Bannon admitted that he`d had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and Legal Spokesman Mark Corallo about Don Junior`s infamous meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016." That meeting is a key part of Robert Mueller`s investigation, the same investigation that Bannon has now agreed to cooperate with. MSNBC Legal Analyst Jill Wine-Banks is a former Watergate Prosecutor, a scandal that help define executive privilege as we know it today. And I want to play you what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said from the podium and get your reaction to it about how this is negotiated Vis-a-Vis the White House`s assertions to the privilege. Take a listen.


SANDERS: I can tell you that this White House is a following the same practice that many White Houses before us have that have gone back decades that there is a process that you go through anytime you have Congressional inquiries touching upon White House. The Congress should consult with the White House prior to obtaining confidential material. This is part of a judicial recognized process. We want to follow through that.


HAYES: Is that -- is that your understanding?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: The whole understanding of executive privilege is misunderstood here. First of all, executive privilege only counts if the President is receiving policy or political advice. It does not count if he`s talking about how to characterize an illegal meeting or how to cover-up a crime. That`s the very clear holding of the tapes case in the Watergate. They said that we were entitled to those tapes because the conversations were not about policy or politics. They were about crimes. And that`s what we really need to focus on more than who it is that was saying it. And the procedure as far as I can tell is really unique.

I`ve checked with someone who worked on the Judiciary Committee, someone who worked on the Clinton impeachment and no one has ever heard of a White House lawyer by telephone or in person telling a witness that they could not answer questions. If there`s to be some negotiation between what the Congress is going to ask a witness and the White House and the White House says, these are certain things that cannot be asked because it`s covered by executive privilege, then that`s something that can be debated and ironed out. I would imagine if this is tried in front of Mueller, that it will end up in court and the court will rule that this does not apply, that there is no executive privilege and that the witness is going to have to answer the questions.

HAYES: Yes, I wanted to follow up on that because we have new -- you know, the news yesterday was Mueller subpoenaed Bannon. Now they`ve struck a deal. And it sounds like from the reporting that he`s not going to try to make the same assertions. And you`re -- what you`re saying is given the holding in the Watergate case, that the privilege can`t be used to cover-up the possible evidence of a crime, there`s no way that that would fly with Mueller or of the courts if Bannon were to try that with Mueller.

BANKS: Exactly. It is very clear in terms of a criminal case. The court said that in such a case, it is, I hate to use the word trumped but basically, the criminal prosecution is more important and trumps any claim of executive privilege. So it`s very, very clear. And it doesn`t matter whether the witness is subpoenaed or comes in voluntarily, his obligation to answer questions is the same. And his ability to evade answering questions is the same. He cannot avoid answering questions. He will be in contempt either way. So because there`s been a lot of talk about well, he`s not been subpoenaed or he has been subpoenaed. That really isn`t the critical issue.

HAYES: You know, I understand that obviously the Fifth Amendment, there`s a right against self-incrimination. And jury trials, the judge instructs the juries not to impute guilt because the defendant didn`t testify. But just in a sort of lay sense, there`s something kind of -- that seems rather incriminating about the White House on the phone with Steve Bannon saying don`t answer that, don`t answer that.

BANKS: It seems incriminating in a normal average citizen is going to draw certain conclusions from the fact that the White House is saying we`re cooperating fully but we`re not letting witnesses answer. People are seeing that as a gag order, which it is. If the President has nothing to hide, then the facts should be able to come out. There`s nothing that was said or done that would incriminate anyone. But that isn`t what it seems like. But you`re right, a judge in a criminal case would instruct a jury that if someone claims the Fifth Amendment and that`s not happening here, not the Fifth Amendment. So he`s not saying -- Bannon is not saying I would be incriminating myself. He`s saying I would be incriminating someone else and it would be the President.

HAYES: Revealing privileged information or counsel I gave to the President of the United States. Jill Wine-Banks, thanks for your time.

BANKS: Thank you for being back.

HAYES: It`s good to be back. Up next, hear what adult performer Stormy Daniels said about her relationship with Donald Trump and why her story could be just the tip of the iceberg. The details after this quick break.


HAYES: Fox News viewers came this close to learning a month before the election about the adult film actress that then-candidate Donald Trump allegedly had an extramarital affair with. But Fox News reportedly killed the story. We know that Stephanie Clifford who`s stage name was Stormy Daniels claims to have had an affair with Trump beginning July 2006. We might have ever heard about any of this except for a Wall Street Journal report just last week which is that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen arranged $130,000 for Clifford`s silence one month for the Presidential election. Now, Michael Cohen released a letter reportedly signed by Clifford denying the affair. But The Wall Street Journal report sheds new light on what is being reported about Fox News that they had the story in October of 2016, one month before the election but shelved it.

According to CNN, Diana Falzone, a reporter for Fox News has on the record statement from Clifford`s manager at that time Gina Rodriguez confirming her client had engaged in a sexual relationship with Trump. She had the story and Fox killed it. One of the people familiar with matter told CNN. Now, there are other outlets that were reportedly on the trail of the story before the election but efforts to pay off Clifford and quash the story were apparently successful. The story is -- well, it`s buried no more because In Touch Weekly has now published excerpts from an 2011 interview which the publication corroborated with two sources at the time along with giving the actress the polygraph test. In that she says her sexual relationship with Trump began in his Lake Tahoe hotel suite after meeting in a celebrity golf tournament in July 2006. His son Baron was a few months old at that time. According to In Touch Weekly, she said we had really good banter.

He told me once that I was someone to be reckoned with, beautiful, smart, just like his daughter. The story might under different circumstances end there if true, it was a consensual affair but in Michael Wolff`s book Fire and Fury, Steve Bannon referred to another one of Trump`s longtime lawyers. Bannon saying, "look, Kasowitz has known Trump for 25 years. Kasowitz has gotten him out of all kinds of jams. Kasowitz on the campaign, what do we have, 100 women? Kasowitz took care of them all." And even if that is a gross exaggeration, Donald Trump is known for his love of nondisclosure agreements in business and in politics. There`s been wide reporting about his campaign staff signing nondisclosure agreements. The iceberg of secrets next.


HAYES: Maybe many reasons why a story about an extramarital affair of a major party candidate doesn`t become public, but Washington Post national correspondent Phillip Bump writes, "by our account at least six media were aware of the alleged affair between porn star Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump before the 2016 election, each outlet likely had overlapping reasons for not running with the story, including that Daniels` unwillingness to to public with her story made it tricky.

And Washington Post national correspondent Phillip Bump joins me now.

Everyone`s been marveling what the head snapping way in which standards have changed because in any other context, this would be an enormous story now, it would be an enormous story then. What do you think accounts for the fact it didn`t come out before the election.

PHILIP BUMP, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think it is certainly the case -- I mean, so Fox News in responding to CNN`s story about how they killed the story, their response was essentially they weren`t able to be validate it to their standards. And I think that that is bolstered by the fact that Slate, The Daily Beast, In Touch apparently was sitting on this, there are all these other outlets that had the story within their grasp and didn`t run with it, because obviously that`s what journalists do. They wait until they can actually verify it before running with salacious...

HAYES: Right, but then the key piece thing that we -- the key piece in the puzzle now is that he used a nondisclosure -- they appear agreement paid for with $130,000 to basically wrap this up. And you`ve got the -- you know, it`s striking to read that Michael Cohn letter where it`s her saying this never happened. And then read the In Touch 5,000 word interview in which it very clearly from her mind has.

BUMP: Right. You know, it`s -- all of the evidence suggests that there`s an NDA that`s in place. She can`t talk about it. She put forward this statement, which is not fully accurate.

Yes, I think it`s important for people to remember, too, that Donald Trump is not a normal politician. He didn`t come up through the ranks of politics. He didn`t -- a normal politician would not be paying off porn stars after he had sexual affairs with them. But Donald Trump came from the private sector. He was used to using NDAs, as you pointed out. I don`t think this is hard to believe in that context.

HAYES: No, and in fact I mean, the question to me is what`s that line about Kasowitz and what part are we seeing? What`s the iceberg for NDAs?

One of the things we`ve learned from the Harvey Weinstein reporting is that that was one of the major tools in the toolkit that kept what appears to be hundreds of women who in that case he allegedly raped, sexually assaulted, quiet because they were locked under these contracts. We know of one NDA here, maybe perhaps another or a few that there seem to be, but we don`t know the total number.

BUMP: That`s exactly right. And that`s the very nature, the entire point is to obscure the total number. There was this report by The Daily Beast today. Jessica Drake, who actually came forward with accusations of solicitation, essentially, by Donald Trump shortly before the election. Someone reached out to her. She -- her manager told The Daily Beast, oh she has an NDA. She can`t talk about that anymore, that reportedly called The Daily Beast back and said, no, no, I shouldn`t have said that. I didn`t mean she had an NDA. I spoke out of turn.

So, there are certainly indications that there may be other NDAs out there. We know, you said this, he had campaign volunteers sign NDAs. This is a tool that he used. And the question is, if this is an iceberg, what actually cracks it up? What is the tool that is used to get this information out there, since there are all these people who may have signed things, received money and legally are obligated not to say anything.

HAYES: This is the letter that the Trump attorney sent to Bannon essentially accusing him of violating the NDA in the Micahel Wolff book. He says you have breached the agreement by among other things, disclosing confidential information to Mr. Wolff, making disparaging statements, in some cases outright defamtory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members and the company.

Everyone who`s ever basically worked for the guy is wrapped -- all that information is wrapped up under a thicket of legal cover.

BUMP: And I think one of the things to keep in mind here is that when Donald Trump was a private billionaire citizen, it was not worth the fight to try and upend one of these NDAs, it was now it may be more worth doing so. He is a much more significant public figure now. There are lots of people who are interested in taking him down and who may do things like cover legal fees, which we`ve already seen people make offers for in other contexts. It`s not clear if Donald Trump would be able to maintain this iceberg, to keep going back to that analogy, given solely the fact that he`s in a much different position now than he was...

HAYES: Well, the most surprising thing to me about the Stormy Daniels story is that they paid.

BUMP: Yeah.

HAYES: Honestly. $130,000. There are painters in Atlantic City who still haven`t been paid by Donald Trump or got ten cents on the dollar for their work. The fact that they paid that suggests to me that, a, who paid. We still don`t know. What is it actually the candidate? Was it some other entity? And, b, why they paid.

BUMP: Right.

And a fascinating detail in Jacob Weisberger from Slate, who actually had had conversations about this before the election. One of the things he says is that Stormy Daniels reached out to him or his people reached out to him on her behalf because she was worried about it. And she had seen these new reports about how Donald Trump stiffed people to whom he owed money. She was worried about that and sort of used this as a chip in that relationship.

HAYES: Yeah, they clearly thought the price of this was relatively high, and actually delivered on it, which would suggest to me the way they were modeling the way the story would go is different than how it`s actually landed now.

BUMP: Right. That`s exactly right. You know, obviously, is the context of October 2016 is different than the post Harvey Weinstein context of January 2018.

HAYES: Philip Bump, thank you.

BUMP: Of course.

HAYES: Still ahead, Facebook attempts to reckon with its role in the 2016 election. How far is the tech giant willing to go?

Plus, how the wolf got into the White House in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, ever since Michael Wolff`s ground breaking book on the Trump administration depicting a wholly dysfunctional White House and a president surrounded by aides who don`t believe he`s fit for office, the burning question has been why did they ever let Michael Wolff in to wander the White House in the first place? Here is what Wolff said to NBC in his first interview.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: Your former editor at Vanity Fair, Grayson Carter (ph), said he wasn`t surprised you`d written this exclusive book. He was surprised they let you in the door at the White House. Are you surprised?

MICHAEL WOLFF, JOURNALIST: You know, no. I`m a nice guy. I go in.

GUTHRIE: Did you flatter your way in?

WOLFF: I certainly said what was ever necessary to get the story.


HAYES: So, what exactly did Michael Wolff say to get the story? Well, today there are new details about that. A report that reads like a spy cultivating an easy mark. How President Trump saw something he liked during his executive time and then gave Michael Wolff the keys to the White House. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Well, 11 months before Michael Wolff released his bombshell book on the Trump administration, he did a TV interview and President Trump was watching.


WOLFF: We go into a fit of apoplexy and what we set up is as we try to go after his credibility, our credibility becomes equally a problem. I think individual journalists are in many cases having a nervous breakdown.


HAYES: President Trump really liked that take, it was a hot one. According to a new Bloomberg report based on conversations with multiple current and former Trump aides and advisers Trump himself phoned the author in early February to compliment him on a CNN appearance in which Wolff criticized media coverage of the new president. Wolff reportedly told Trump he wanted to write a book on the administration. And the next day he was at the White House meeting with Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks.

In his pitch for access, Wolff used a working title for the book for the book, just a working title. He called it "The Great Transition: the First 100 Days of the Trump Administration." And in part due to that title, Wolf was able to exploit an inexperienced White House staff who mistakenly believed they could shape the book to the president`s liking.

While we have yet to see how destructive Fire and Fury might be this administration, remember it is Trump himself that made the book possible. A little bit of flattery went a long way. And while Trump basked in Wolff`s comments the media was losing, it also seemed he missed at least one clue about the author`s motive.


WOLFF: You`ve got to get in. You have got to meet these people. You have got to talk to these people. You have to see what`s going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you just sucking up to get access to the White House?

WOLFF: If I`m sucking up a bit to get access, but I am also trying to -- I am the only person, it would seem, who was actually having this conversation.




BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you were getting all your information off algorithms being sent through a phone and it is just reinforcing whatever biases you have, that`s what`s happening with these Facebook pages where more and more are getting their news from, at a certain point, you just live in a bubble and that`s part of why our politics is so polarized right now.


HAYES: Facebook is now apparently trying to do something about the bubble the former president was just talking about, announcing the company is overhauling the newsfeed to show less news, more updates from family and friends.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg promising on Facebook, of course, the company will shift from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions, just one op-ed he writer warned in the New York Times, "don`t count on Facebook to disrupt Facebook anytime soon."

The writer of that op-ed, Noam Cohen, author of The Know-It-Alls: the Rise of Silicon Valley is a political powerhouse and social wrecking ball and he joins me now.

Why not trust Facebook?

NOAM COHEN, AUTHOR: Well, because I think they don`t understand the power of their medium. I mean, why don`t trust them? I think they -- when you look at what they want to do to make social interactions better, I think they believe that Facebook connected interactions are very good and they`re not inclined to question that. So, I guess I thought when they were questioning their own -- the way they operate, they weren`t asking hard questions like could Facebook be bad for our well-being just as a statement. I don`t think they entertained that idea.

HAYES: Well, that`s I think -- you know, there`s the saying about the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And it seems like that`s sort of the theme of some of your -- the reporting on Facebook is they truly and genuinely believe their own hype about what Facebook is.

COHEN: Totally -- yeah. That`s a big question whether what the motives are.

HAYES: Right, how cynical it is.

COHEN: And how important is it really. Yeah, I mean, like, if you believe that connecting people is the most important thing you`re willing to do a lot of things to have that happen, whether dealing with China, whether kind of manipulating people. I think there`s a large pervasive fact throughout Facebook`s history, they believe you should manipulate people to be on Facebook because it`s good for them. So, I do think that are -- and I do think they might believe that.

Why he believes it? I don`t know. I mean, I think it`s like -- I think he`s very intrigued, Zuckerberg that is, with the idea of connecting the world. Right now people say Facebook is the biggest entity, bigger than any religion, bigger than any country, right, 2 billion people. It`s like -- if you are an optimistic surrogate, you think, wow, think of what the tower we could build if we all could speak the same language. It would be so tall in Babel.

HAYES: Right, right.

COHEN: You know, I mean, I think they`re intrigued by that, you know.

HAYES: But there`s also something -- I mean, obviously it`s massively profitable. And there`s also something self-serving about the sort of mythos they tell themselves. And I think, you know, part of the point I think you`re making in the -- or you made in the op-ed is that both the sort of ideology of Facebook, but also the bottom line means that they can`t be counted on to change things that are going to hurt them.

COHEN: Yeah, well I think it was when there was a -- when Zuckerberg, right, had a call with investors and said I`m so serious about making sure we`re not manipulated in these elections and advise people, that we`re going to lose money on it. That`s why I want to tell you, investors, we`re going to do it.

And of course the parallel is that means that they make money from dividing people. And I mean, and that`s admitting that. So, I think it`s like -- it`s just a lot to expect any human being to say O don`t care about what money my corporation makes, I don`t care that I have the chance to run a thing that could be the biggest thing in history, better than Alexander the Great, better than Caesar.

I was like -- you know, in my book, the Know-It-Alls I sort of talk about that scene in Life of Brian where it`s like -- they talk about what have the Romans have ever done for you and it`s like the roads are great and the wine, and like it`s an incredible power to be be like Rome and make a universal system for the entire planet. That`s great. I think they`re intrigued by that It`s scary though.

HAYES: Well, that`s the point, right. I mean, the point is that Rome won`t change by itself. There is -- we are not Rome, we`re a democracy. And a Rome-like power sitting in the middle that it, and a Rome-like power that has the power to change -- you know, to alter what people see at the flip of a switch to raise up media entities or absolutely throttle them and choke them off like they`re now doing in the news feed, that power is a little hard to square with some basic fundamental democratic commitments.

COHEN: I think so. I was definitely struck with the hearings they had about the meddling in the election by Russia. I think it was Senator Klobuchar who like said, you know, we really take seriously our elections. It`s like we`re a country, a representative democracy, it`s like not optional that we elections that are fair and free and not manipulated. I feel like it`s almost like she was instructing Google, Facebook and Twitter, their lawyers, that like this is a nonbreakable commitment, and like you have to figure out how to make your sites not challenge our democracy. And I think, you know, it`s amazing.

HAYES: And yet, it seems to me that they have more power than they`ve ever had. For all the negative press, in some ways they`re more powerful than they`ve ever been. They just changed their new algorithm and all the sudden every media company is scrambling to deal with them.

COHEN: Sure, and my editor at the Times is talking about the fact that -- and the piece that they were most struck by was the 4.7 billion dollars in profit last quarter, the third quarter. It`s a staggering sum of money for profit.

So yeah, I think there is this sense that it does have analogies like the Robert Baron era where there is an open frontier that the first ones in are making money hand over fist. I don`t think the Robert Barons are quite so preachy that we`re doing this for you. And honestly like that`s what Zuckerberg wrote that like -- this message of do we care about the well being of our country. And it`s like, why would you expect a CEO of a huge company to do that?

HAYES: Noam Cohen, it`s a great piece. Thanks for coming in.

Next, Democrats have now flipped over 30 seats since Donald Trump took office. Last night shocking win in the strengthening blue wave, next.


HAYES: Wisconsin`s Republican Governor, Scott Walker is freaked out about what happened in his state last night in the heart of Trump country, in a district where every county went for Trump, a Democrat won the special election for state Senate, flipping a seat that had been held by a Republican since 2001.

Patty Shockner defeated the well known Republican state rep by 11 points, even more impressive when compared to Donald Trump`s 17-point win in the district in 2016. Governor Scott Walker reacted on Twitter writing, Senate district 10 special election win by a Democrat is a wakeup call for Republicans in Wisconsin.

But that Wisconsin race is far from the first wakeup call for Republicans. Democrats have flipped 35 legislative seats since Donald Trump won the presidency, and even including the races they have lost, Democrats have consistently overperformed their 2016 margins. Of the 74 special elections that have taken place since Trump won, the average swing has been nearly 11% percentage points.

Here`s how it looks on a map. The blue arrows, and you see a lot of them, represent the margins across the country in all those different races. That is what a blue wave looks like.

Joined now by Democratic pollster and MSNBC Political Analyst, Cornell Belcher. I thought it was interesting that Walker himself came out and said it, after it spent over $100,000, a state Senate special election in Wisconsin, in the heart of Trump country, they spent $100,000 on it, and the Democrat wins it walking away, and the governor the next morning says basically, "look out."

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC: If I am at the RNC, I`m hitting the panic button, but I`m going to real that in in a moment. But I am hitting the panic button because when you look across these districts, Democrats are way overperforming.

You have a 18-point swing. The last Democrat who ran there got 37%, 38%, so you had an 18 point swing. Chris, I don`t have to tell you this but maybe your viewers, we don`t have the 18 point swings on a regular basis in districts. It`s remarkable but what that district encapsulates is something that you`re looking at going into the next midterm where you have an open seat because you have a lot of retirements going on. Just like in 2006 when I was working for Howard Dean at the DNC, part of it was to help build a wave you have to have retirements, right? Because as you know, incumbents are so hard to defeat one way or another.

But you also have a Republican who wasn`t a Roy Moore Republican, this wasn`t a crazy Republican. You had a regular sort of Republican here, and you had that sort of swing. But when you look at the excerpts of that, you had a real push there. And I think when you look at what Democrats are looking at around country here, it is the better edge of these college educated, better educated young white voters, even in the sort of Midwestern districts who have been tending to vote Republican. They`re pulling back from it right now.

There`s something about Donald Trump and what the Republican brand means right now that they`re pulling back from. And my issue with Democrats is, that`s not all about economics, Chris, right? We want to perch this all about economics. They`re not disappointed in Donald Trump and the direction of this country simply because of pocket book issues.

HAYES: I think that`s fascinating because one of the things you`ve seen in the macro data, in the polling of the president is he`s done well for him in the last month, his approval rating has come up, partly because the Republicans came back after the fold and passed the tax cut and there are a lot of numbers from the macro economy that look like good numbers, the employment rate, the DOW, yada, yada, yada.

Even with that said, here`s what could have he accessed, 49% of the country disapprove strongly. That`s strongly. Approve strongly is 29%. It seems to me that is, when you look at the special elections and the midterms, that intensity gap is the one that`s driving politics right now.

BELCHER: Right, and that`s the key to the blue wave. You go back and look at 2006, you know, Bush`s approval around this time was hovering between the high 30s, low 40s, his approval. So you have, and you have Congress with approval in the 30s as well.

So you do have some of the same writing on the wall. And historically, and I`m getting in the weeds because I`m a dork and you`re a dork and it`s a dork show. If you go back to the `90s and follow the pattern here, you have approximately 80 to 83, 84% in the elections who disapprove of the president, they vote for the opposition party. If his approval is hovering in the 30s, and you have 80% of those voters who disapprove of him voting opposition party, you do have the remnants of a wave election, but I still think Democrats have to give voters something more than a transaction.

We have to have more than just pocket book issues. We have to speak to the values and the frustration with what`s happening in this country, which is not just economics.

HAYES: That`s interesting. It`s interesting particularly as the economy, if the recovery continues, with the unemployment state low, how that message plays out.

Cornell Belcher, thank you as always for joining me.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.


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