Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 18, 2018 Guest: Roger Marshall, Bernie Sanders, Betsy Woodruff, Adam Davidson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still going to Florida tomorrow given the possible shutdown?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll see what happens?
HAYES: The President passes the buck.
TRUMP: We'll see what happens. It's up to the Democrats.
HAYES: Tonight, as the President fights his own Chief of Staff, Republicans struggle to keep the government open.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We should not be playing these games.
HAYES: Then --
TRUMP: I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier. It was made-up.
HAYES: Money laundering, kompromat and more in the second round of Fusion GPS transcripts.
TRUMP: Russia is fake news.
HAYES: And explosive new reporting that the FBI is investigating whether the NRA used Russian money to help Trump.
TRUMP: Back with my friends at the NRA.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. The government is now set to shut down in just 28 hours, tomorrow at midnight and President Trump has a pretty good idea who he wants everyone to blame.
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TRUMP: I really believe the Democrats want a shutdown to get off the subject of the tax cuts because they've worked so well. Nobody thought, including the Democrats, it could work this well. They've been so good, that I think the Democrats would like to see a shutdown in order to get off that subject.
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HAYES: A budget resolution to fund the government for a month just passed the House within the hour. Republicans voting it through on their partisan basis, basically, to fund CHIP for six years, and other parts of the government. But it's worth taking a moment to remember exactly how we got here before this goes to the Senate. First, the President ended the DACA program, which protects people brought as children to the U.S. from deportation. Then, the GOP-led Congress refused to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program serving 9 million kids. Democrats wanted to protect the DREAMers, they also wanted sick kids to have health care and a group of them worked with Republicans to hammer out a deal to fund the government, protect the DREAMers, and give Trump all the money he asked for on border security. And the best part was, the President had promised to sign it.
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TRUMP: When this group comes back, hopefully with an agreement, this group and others, from the Senate, from the House, come 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.
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HAYES: We all know what happened next. With the shutdown looming, Trump tore up the deal that he had promised to sign live on national television and threw in a racist tirade for good measure. And now the government is on the brink of shutdown. Right now there are bipartisan majorities in both Houses of Congress, right now, that would vote for a compromise deal. But Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell won't bring it to a vote because they argued there's no point with Trump in the White House.
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RYAN: Well, the President's made it clear that the deal that he was presented with by Graham and Durbin is not a balanced deal and he doesn't support that. What I've been making clear is we're not going to bring a bill through here that the President is not going to support. What would be the point of passing something that doesn't go into law?
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HAYES: Instead, Republicans of the House have just passed a short-term funding bill that does not protect the 800,000 DREAMers who face possible deportation in a little more than six weeks, thanks to President Trump and the Members of the Republican Party. The House passed that short-term bill a short time ago, but it faces long odds in the Senate, where four Republicans, Republicans, have said they're going to vote no and Democrats are offering up near-unified opposition. In an attempt to get Democrats to sign on in the House, Republicans attached six years of funding for the children's health insurance program to the short-term deal.
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RYAN: The stakes are going to be shutting down CHIP in days. Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oregon, Virginia, Washington State, these are states that are running out of CHIP money if we don't get this thing passed. And I can't imagine why somebody would want to vote against doing that.
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HAYES: Even for Paul Ryan, this is remarkably, aggressively, astonishingly disingenuous. You'll remember, perhaps, that the Republicans control the government. They have a majority in the House, they have a majority in the Senate, they have the Presidency, the whole thing. They could have funded CHIP, which is, in fact, a vital program, at any point, maybe just attached it to their massive corporate tax cut. They didn't, and the reason they didn't is because they made a strategic decision to use medical care for kids with cancer as a bargaining chip. Joining me now, fresh off that House vote, Republican Congressman, Roger Marshall of Kansas. Congressman, I am confused about all of this, as I think a lot of other people are. So just walk me through this. The Republicans do have a majority in the House, right?
REP. ROGER MARSHALL (R), KANSAS: That's right, Mr. Hayes, they sure do. They sure do and I think we proved that tonight, we do.
HAYES: OK, you do. OK. And I also -- I spent the last year covering Congress in the Senate where you can use a budget process called reconciliation and when they care about something, they use reconciliation to get -- try to get ACA through, couldn't get the votes, got the corporate tax cut through, could pass budget bills through the reconciliation process if they want to, right?
MARSHALL: I don't know that we can pass this particular bill through with the reconciliation. I think that we need to fund the government long-term.
HAYES: Right. But my point is that there are Republican majorities in both Houses who when they really care about something, like corporate tax cuts, seem to get it together to manage to do what they need to do without Democrats helping, right? There were no Democratic votes on the corporate tax cuts? Republicans really cared about that issue. Why all of a sudden when it comes to this stuff, Republicans are worried about the Democrats?
MARSHALL: Well, Mr. Hayes, first of all, we did have six Democrats vote with us tonight, so that's a little bit of a celebration. But I think we need to stop and celebrate what we've done tonight. We've funded government, we've helped kids out for six years. And now I need my Senate partners to do the same thing --
HAYES: Congressman --
MARSHALL: -- we need some Democrats to step forward as well.
HAYES: Why not -- why didn't you do CHIP a month ago?
MARSHALL: In the House side, we did. We actually passed CHIP back in October on the House side. I can't always speak for what the Senate's doing or not doing but I think we need to hold the Senate accountable. But we passed CHIP way back in October for five years on the House side.
HAYES: Here's the way -- here's the way it looks to folks, that CHIP is being used as a bargaing tool, that it's viewed not as a good program in and of itself, but it's being used by Republicans, who could have passed it, if they wanted to, as a bargaining tool to get Democratic votes.
MARSHALL: That's an interesting comment, Mr. Hayes. I've done 70 town halls and you're the first person to ever suggest that. I think it couldn't be further from the truth. I think that's very disingenuous. I think that we've always wanted to prioritize what we can do and not do and we want to prioritize our military and our kids and we've done just that.
HAYES: Wait, but you just -- you just told me -- wait a second, you just told me the House funded this back in October, right?
MARSHALL: We did. We funded CHIP back in October.
HAYES: Exactly. So my understanding of the way the bills work is if passes the House, passes the Senate, goes to the President. So the Senate which was run by Republicans could have passed CHIP after you guys did, right?
MARSHALL: It would take 60 votes over in the Senate to pass that --
HAYES: There would have been 60 votes for CHIP, wouldn't there?
MARSHALL: I can't tell you that. What I can't believe is anyone could vote against it in the Senate. How can someone in the Senate vote against kids and the military? This is going to be the Schumer meltdown here, the Schumer shutdown. So why can't the Senate (INAUDIBLE) make a deal and get the job done?
HAYES: Here's my question. Did you -- did you watch the President that day that he had that long meeting with everyone about immigration?
MARSHALL: I saw a few of the replays. Oh, the -- I saw replays of it, just bits and pieces.
HAYES: He said, I will sign whatever you bring me, correct?
MARSHALL: I don't remember that. I think it's being taken out of context. I don't think -- I think that he said, as long as it meant certain parameters, he was willing to make a deal. So I think that's what he was trying to say.
HAYES: Right, and there's -- and my your -- my understanding is, you support a bipartisan DACA deal, right?
MARSHALL: I do, as long as there's border security in there, I'm in favor of fixing DACA. But it all starts with border security. We don't want to be back here in ten years doing the same thing over again.
HAYES: But you've got a bipartisan DACA deal with border security by Will Hurd and Congressman Aguilar. I had them on last night. You got a bipartisan DACA deal in the Senate. There are majorities in both Houses right now, if you went to the floor in both Houses, you've got bipartisan majorities for a DACA deal, border security, CHIP, fund the government, why not do it?
MARSHALL: I think with all due respect, I think unless there's $18 billion of funding for securing the border, you're not going to get that bill through the House side. There's only 25 Republican sponsors of Mr. Hurd's bill and it's a great start, but I have to have $18 billion of funding for border security for that bill to become realistic.
HAYES: But then, aren't you just saying that you're willing to hold the CHIP recipients hostage or the DREAMers hostage for the border security, $18 billion?
MARSHALL: Yes, I don't think anybody's a hostage here. I think you can't look at each one of these issues in little silos. I want to fix DACA, but it all starts with border security. We just fixed CHIP, so I don't see how you're putting those two together now.
HAYES: Because the whole point is what gets included and what doesn't, right? I mean, you've been legislating for a while. That's the whole game that's being played. The party with the majority controls what gets included and what doesn't, you'd agree with that, right?
MARSHALL: I think that's pretty close, but I think as we work towards long-term solutions and we'd like to add bipartisan solutions that would include ideas from both sides and amendments from both sides.
HAYES: But Congressman, you got bipartisan solutions. There are bipartisan majorities for a deal with DACA in both Houses. That is simply a fact and my question is, why not just put those up for a vote?
MARSHALL: Yes, I don't think you have the votes yet to pass it. I've not seen a bill yet that I think would pass. But you know, the great news is, Mr. Hayes, is that we're talking more about DACA and immigration issues than I've ever seen. Just last night, a bipartisan dinner, I sat down with five Democrats. So we're talking about this more than ever. I think -- I think we're way closer than you're giving us credit for. If you just give us a little time and a little bit of room, we're going to get DACA done. But it all starts with border security. We don't want to be back here again in ten years doing the same thing again.
HAYES: Let me ask you one more thing. You said you need $18 billion for border security?
MARSHALL: Yes, sir, I do.
HAYES: So I happened to cover the campaign, I don't know how much you paid attention to it, but I was here every night and I watched the President speak a lot. And he had a line, I don't know if you'll recall it from the campaign, he said that we're going to build a wall and that Mexico would pay for it. And it was something he repeated quite often. He probably repeated it a thousand times. So if Mexico's going to pay for the wall, why do you need to appropriate a single cent from American taxpayers for border security?
MARSHALL: I'm not really sure -- the President says some things, he tweets some things, I don't always agree with everything he tweets or says, but you have to realize he's negotiating.
HAYES: But he --
MARSHALL: And I'm used -- I'm used to dealing with people. So when he was saying those things, I think he was negotiating. He started off, and he wanted to build an entire wall. I mean, it was just what, four years ago, the gang of eight wanted to appropriate $45 billion. All he's asking for is $18 billion to secure the border. This is not that difficult of an issue.
HAYES: But the American people elected Donald Trump president, did they not?
MARSHALL: They sure did.
HAYES: And Donald Trump made one of the most signature policy promises of the whole campaign, if you were to say, what were the top three things Donald Trump stands for.one of them was, build the wall, and it was so familiar, that he would stop and the crowd would say, Mexico is going to pay for it. If you take seriously that people voted for him for that reason, then shouldn't Mexico pay for the wall and we don't have to have to even have this conversation about appropriating American taxpayer dollars for it?
MARSHALL: I guess this entire conversation doesn't make sense. I think we need to appropriate $18 billion to secure the border. I think the President's already kind of backed off a little bit. Again, he's negotiating through the press many times. He started off with 1,200, 1,400 miles of border wall. Now he's talking about maybe $800 -- $800 million. So I think there's lots of ways to get this done. Maybe long-term he'll figure out a way for Mexico to pay for it. But in the meantime, we have to appropriate money so we can get the job done.
HAYES: So the American taxpayers should front the money because what the President promised can't happen?
MARSHALL: I think you're taking everything a little bit too literally. I would sure encourage you to pay more attention to what President Trump is doing --
HAYES: He literally said Mexico is going to pay for it.
MARSHALL: Instead of all of these words and all these tweets. I understand that.
HAYES: OK, Congressman Roger Marshall, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
MARSHALL: Yes, Mr. Hayes, thank you for having me on.
HAYES: Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont. Senator, you heard Congressman Marshall, you heard Congressman Paul Ryan. Democrats don't care about children's health care. There's nothing you object to this in bill. It's your fault if kids don't get health care. This is the Schumer shutdown. What do you say?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: These are the guys who wanted to cut Medicaid by $1 trillion over a ten-year period. These are the guys who wanted to wipe out completely the Affordable Care Act and throw 32 million people off of health insurance. What's going on here, Chris, tonight is not hard to understand. We have 3 1/2 months into the fiscal year, 3 1/2 months. We are a $4 trillion government and the Republicans have not yet been able to pass an annual budget. You cannot run a government like that. You can't do it month by month. What we have got to do now is negotiate in a serious way. The Republicans keep thinking they can get it all. Well, they can't get it all in the Senate, because they need 60 votes. And that means they're going to have to negotiate and negotiate seriously. What does that mean? It means parody for military spending and not military spending. We can't just spend a zillion dollars on the military and ignore the pressing needs facing working families.
And by the way, it's not just CHIP, it's community health centers, which provide health care to 27 million men, women, and children in this country. It is the opioid and heroin epidemic that has to be dealt with. It is the Social Security Administration that is grossly underfunded, so that last year, 10,000 people with disabilities died while their claims were being processed. It is -- it is issues facing working families that have got to be addressed, not just military spending, it is DACA. You were right when you said, Trump precipitated this crisis. He did away with Obama's executive office order, and he said to Congress, you guys fix it. Well, the Republicans control the House and the Senate, they have not fixed it. They have got to fix it, because we are not going to allow 800,000 young people to face deportation.
HAYES: What do you make of this CHIP dangling that has happened? I mean, you're in the Senate and Senate procedure, I have to say, I've been covering the United States Senate for about, what, 14 years, something like that and I still have trouble with Senate procedure. I will completely admit. Some Senators do, as well, I imagine. Mitch McConnell, if he wanted to get a CHIP bill out of that body that you serve in, could have, right?
SANDERS: If Mitch McConnell had brought up the CHIP program three months ago, he would have had 90 votes on the floor of the Senate, maybe 100, I don't know. Same thing with community health center program, widely supported in a bipartisan matter but they have chosen not to do that.
HAYES: So, what is the next move here? I mean, you said you have to negotiate, negotiate seriously. But the question here is there's two-fold. One is, let's start with the Republicans. Is it your sense that they even, the Republicans themselves, have enough votes to pass something?
SANDERS: No, I don't think so. But I'm not sure. We'll see what happens. But I think there are enough Democrats and some Republicans who are saying, you know, we have finally got to address the real issues facing this country. That is an annual budget. If you are the Secretary of Defense, for example, how in God's name do you run the military on a month-by-month basis? That is totally irresponsible, not to mention every other agency of government. We have got to deal with the DACA issue, and we have to deal with it now. We have to deal with disaster relief. You got Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida, that are in need of help. Republicans have not yet done that.
HAYES: Yes, I want to be clear on this because again, a lot of this gets very confusing in terms of what's being moved in and out. All of that disaster relief stuff wasn't in what the House just passed, correct?
HAYES: That's being set aside as something else you have to deal with?
SANDERS: I mean, again, these are major crisis facing this country. How do you not deal with the opioid heroin epidemic?
HAYES: Why is the budget process so broken? I just don't get it? How is it possible that the United States Congress, controlled by majorities in both Houses, which has a budget reconciliation process in your House that allows for a majority rule, can't just put a budget together and pass budgets?
SANDERS: Well, it's the ranking member of the budget committee, I echo you. That is a very good question. But I think what we should also appreciate is not just that it's broken, the fact that we don't have an annual budget is something that is not all that disturbing to many Republicans because it means that we're not spending -- that we're cutting money by not doing anything. If you continue to do continuing resolutions, probably the federal budget goes down by two or three percent, depending on the agency.
HAYES: I see. So they like it because it is essentially a way of preserving a kind of status quo that it functionally cuts government by doing these rolling C.R.s as opposed to actually having an annual actual budget fight?
SANDERS: Exactly. Exactly. Now, where they're vulnerable is they want to significantly expand military spending. And our view is, you know, I think they're asking for far, far too much. But the main point here is for every dollar that is spent on the military, there has to be a dollar spent on the needs of working families, whether it's childcare, whether it's student debt relief, whether it's infrastructure or whether it's a variety of programs that working families desperately need.
HAYES: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.
SANDERS: Thank you.
HAYES: Tonight, the second batch of Fusion GPS transcripts just dropped and they read like a spy novel. What we're learning about the Steele Dossier's leads on money laundering and kompromat in two minutes.
HAYES: -- pressure from Democrats and the witness himself, the House Intelligence Committee voted today to release the transcript of their November interview with Glenn Simpson. That man would be the co-founder of the company behind the infamous Trump/Russia dossier. Simpson's firm was first hired by a conservative publication in 2015, then later by the DNC to dig up information about Donald Trump including his business dealings and relationships, as Mr. Simpson put it to the Committee, "we threw a line in the water and Moby Dick came back." With me now, Adam Davidson, Staff Writer at The New Yorker, who's written extensively about Donald Trump's business dealings, and Betsy Woodruff, Reporter for the Daily Beast, who has a piece up right now entitled Fusion GPS: Kremlin Purged Suspected Spies After Trump Dossier Released. Let me start with you, Betsy, about what jumped out to you from the transcript that we got.
BETSY WOODRUFF, REPORTER, DAILY BEAST: You know, the piece of this that I found most fascinating right off the bat is what we wrote that article about. One thing that Glenn Simpson told investigators was that after the dossier was publicly released, so presumably after BuzzFeed published it, though Simpson didn't mention BuzzFeed after that happened, there appeared to be a purge in the Kremlin. Simpson said he didn't think anything of his sources were part of that purge, but he did believe some folks who were sources for the United States Intelligence Community were actually purged, as a response the Kremlin had to this dossier.
And by purging, Simpson meant folks were arrested and some folks were even killed. We have focused a lot on how the Trump/Russia story affects the United States, how it affects our politics, our system of governance. One of the things that hasn't gotten a lot of focus is the impact this story has had in Russia and we got a new image into what may have been happening in the aftermath from this testimony.
HAYES: One of the other things that jumped out to me was his talking about money laundering. Something you've done some reporting on is the way money moves in and out of the Trump businesses. And this is him going back with Representative Schiff. I want to read this to you and get your response. If the Russians were laundering money through Trump golf courses or Trump condos, would the Russian government be aware of this? Would they be either knowing or active participants potentially in this. The Russia Mafia is essentially under the dominion of the Russian government and Russian intelligence services and many of the oligarchs are also Mafia figures and the oligarchs during this period of consolidation of power by Vladimir Putin was about him essentially taking control over both the oligarchs and mafia groups. So basically everyone in Russia works for Putin now.
ADAM DAVIDSON, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: And that really is the core of his argument in this. Although he doesn't make it that explicitly. He's a great storyteller and he lets the story unfold really nicely. He -- some of the new information, for me, anyway, was that hundreds of millions of mysterious money has poured into the Irish and Scottish golf courses at the same time that what seems to be a fraudulent scheme to defraud investors in Panama and other Trump projects. And Glenn Simpson, I don't believe he ever explicitly comes out and says "I believe this," but he paints a vivid picture of coordinated effort to get Russian money into Trump's hands, and into their own pockets, through money laundering, a partnership, if you will, between Russian sketchy forces and the Trump Organization that was really global in nature.
HAYES: I mean, it's a sort of an astounding thing to contend, but it is part of what the Steele Dossier is about.
DAVIDSON: Absolutely. And I would say, I mean, probably the number one question I get asked socially is to explain if, if Trump's business model was involved in money laundering, how did it work? I would say this is now the defining text. You should read it. He lays out the argument very clearly.
HAYES: For how money would move through Trump properties as a means of laundering that money?
DAVIDSON: Exactly, in a variety of different ways.
HAYES: He also, Betsy, talks about kompromat, the Russian word for compromising material. Kompromat is a big deal for Chris Steele. It is not a big deal for Glenn Simpson because my professional world is financial crime and politics and other things. But he's in Russian intelligence, you know, that's his specialty. And then Schiff asks, is it Russian tradecraft that he would have been familiar with? Mr. Simpson, correct. So when the information comes back that there's kompromat, that there's also conspiracy afoot. You know, each of us sees our piece the elephant, right? Unlike oh my God, their is a conspiracy afoot and he's like oh my God, there's a kompromat problem. So when he sees we have to go the FBI or he wants to go to the FBI, he's specifically concerned about the kompromat issue and whether you know, a Republican, whether a candidate or President of the United States, a nominee has been kompromated. That's pretty strong.
WOODRUFF: Right, exactly. And that's probably the thing that was the biggest news coming out of the dossier when it was initially published many months ago. What's really interesting, too, about the way Simpson framed this in the testimony, is that he's making the argument that the kompromat and the financial conspiracy go hand in hand. That there's not necessarily a binary here, but rather, issues of folks potentially being leveraged by bad actors in the Kremlin are of a piece with them being engaged in some of these very troubling and questionable financial transactions.
Now, that said, one thing that's really important to bear in mind with this -- with Glenn Simpson's testimony, as you pointed out a little bit with what Rooney said, is that look, Simpson did not find hard and fast evidence of crimes. He specifically told that to the committee. He said, look, he got as far as he could in his reporting but at the end of the day, the responsibility for figuring out if someone broke the law is not on journalists. It's actually on congressional committees and more so on Mueller. So he's essentially putting the ball in their court.
HAYES: Here's my question to you, Adam, as someone who's been doing a lot of reporting on this. I guess my question is, how hard is it to uncover? Meaning, is it plausible or feasible or is there a precedent to run large money laundering operations that are hidden enough that no one actually can really quite get to the bottom of them?
DAVIDSON: By the most trusted estimates, about 10 percent of the global economy is money laundering.
DAVIDSON: Yes. So it's arguably the largest industry in the world. So --
HAYES: So I guess the answer to that is yes.
DAVIDSON: Yes. That there are hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people laundering huge amounts of money into the United States, into other countries, all the time, and not being caught. And you know, frankly, the kompromat stuff and the money laundering stuff, this would have been routine, fairly boring stuff for Russian businesspeople at the time. So --
HAYES: What do you mean by that?
DAVIDSON: I mean that the kompromat idea that we will use economic or other you know, sexual or salacious information about someone we want to influence, that's just standard. You know, we're pretty sure Putin has thick files on everybody of any importance, including every American businessperson who might be doing business with Russia. And using that both to figure out who you can do crooked deals with and then also to kompromat, to compromise the people you want to influence. That would just be a daily, almost you know, that's just how the Kremlin --
HAYES: Standard operating procedure.
DAVIDSON: Standard operating procedure. So, we just happen to have that one -- not particularly stunning example of this, maybe, we don't know, allegedly, became President of the United States and is receiving a degree of attention nobody in that world ever has.
HAYES: That make -- that actually snaps a lot of things into focus for me in a way it hadn't before. Adam Davidson and Betsy Woodruff, thanks for joining us.
WOODRUFF: Sure thing.
HAYES: Still to come, the explosive reporting that the FBI is investigating the NRA, yes, the National Rifle Association, for possibly using Russian money to help get Donald Trump elected following the paper trail after this quick break.
HAYES: Among the many as yet unsolved mysteries of the Russian investigation is how is it that Donald Trump Jr. ended up at a dinner with a Senior Russian official in May of 2016 during the annual NRA convention. Among the many overtures from Russia to Trump campaign or around that time, we know the campaign got two e-mails inviting them to make contact with that same Russian official on the sidelines of the NRA event. One with the subject line, Kremlin connection and another with the, in retrospect hilarious subject line, Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite. The candidate's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, rebuffed the request at least according to his attorney. And yet, somehow. somehow, around the same time, Donald Trump was accepting a rousing endorsement from the NRA, which would go on to become one of his biggest outside backers. His son, Donald Trump Jr., ended up at dinner with that same Russian official, who had been trying to get in touch with the campaign.
A guy by the name of Alexander Torshin. He's one of the Heads of Russia's central banks. Torshin was accused by Spanish authorities in 2016 of laundering money for the Russian mob. Now, Don Junior has downplayed their encounter, insisting they nearly chatted for a couple of minutes after being introduced by an acquaintance. But it turns out there may have been something much, much more nefarious going on. According to McClatchy, the FBI is now investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Donald Trump Sr. win the presidency. It's a whole new angle we weren't previously aware of in the Russia investigation and it almost sounds too outlandish to be true. The gun lobby, arguably the most powerful force in Republican and conservative politics, potentially taking illegal dark money donations from the Russian government. But here's the thing. The NRA's ties to Russia go way back. We'll tell you the story behind this photo, yes, that is former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke on the right, right after this.
HAYES: It sounds like something out of a liberal conspiracy theory. Vladimir Putin takes advantage of dark money loopholes under the infamous Citizens United ruling to move huge amounts of money through the National Rifle Association, which uses said money to help elect Donald J. Trump president of the United States.
But that is the theory currently being investigated by the FBI, according to McClatchy. And it has more to make it plausible than you might think at first. According to newly released testimony by the co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the Trump dossier, the firm turned up evidence of a long-term Russian operation. Quote, "it appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA."
The testimony named specifically Aleksandr Torshin, who would, of course, be the same Russian banker cited in the McClatchy story. He is a lifetime NRA member who helped found a similar pro-gun organization in Russia. And over the decade, his organization has hosted multiple visits to Russia by American activists, including one in 2015 by an NRA delegation that included Sheriff David Clarke and former NRA president David Keene. And there's Aleksandr Torshin right in the middle.
The Fusion GPS testimony also raised question about Torshin's co-founder on the Russian gun group, a young woman named Maria Butina. There are the two of them in matching camouflage.
Butina now lives in Washington where, according to The Daily Beast, in the days after the 2016 election, she brazenly claimed she had been part of the Trump campaign's communications with Russia.
Julie Ioffe is a staff writer for The Atlantic and expert on all things Russia, who first started writing about this bizarre connection back in 2012.
What's the deal with Russia and the NRA?
JULIE IOFFE, THE ATLANTIC: So, I have to say, I did not expect this turn. I wrote about Maria Butina back when she was -- OK, there is a bunch of -- so, a lot of people who oppose the Putin regime are hard-core libertarians on our spectrum, because the Russian government really is so involved in people's lives that they just want it out. And people started kicking around this idea that, you know, we should have more guns in our lives in Russia. And I said, OK, than I'm getting the hell out of here, because Russians with guns and vodka, not a good mix.
And Aleksandr Torshin was part of this mix. He was a very high-ranking member. Why he was so interested in this, why he was connected with this young girl from Siberia, who actually had links to this opposition oligarch, Mikhail Khodokovsky, it was very weird.
And I thought of it as just a Russia story. Now it turns out, as we've been learning, Torshin was cultivating deeper ties with the NRA, which I have to say, adds weight to the idea, the understanding we have of Russia's influence in the 2016 campaign, which is that they used things that we had created, that the Americans had created -- they either weaponized our comments, our tweets, our Facebook comments, and preferences, our organizations. They didn't really create anything new, they just, you know, they were the bellows of our social and political divisions.
HAYES: So, you've got a situation where the NRA goes in very hard for Donald Trump. And that's not surprising, that they support the Republican candidate, but they spent a record amount of money, $55 million on the elections, $30 million to help Trump. All of that money is behind the curtain of dark money, of undisclosed donors. We just don't know where it comes from, right?
IOFFE: Right. And we don't know that it comes from Russia, right? This McClatchy report was not definitive in the least, right? This was actually just saying they're investigating this. That doesn't mean -- it means they're looking for the smoke.
IOFFE: Or there's just enough smoke for them to keep looking for more smoke. But it does raise the issue that people had -- that people raised back in 2010, when Citizens United became a thing. Which is, who can use this loophole? Who can donate money that we can't trace? And it turns out, maybe foreign governments. Is that what we want in our political process? That's something that we need to think about.
HAYES: What did you think when you first saw the news about Torshin back when it broke, that he was trying to get to the Trump campaign and that he sits next to Don Jr. at the NRA convention?
IOFFE: That struck me as a very Russian thing. Russians like -- Russians are a lot like other kinds of people from the developing world. They're a lot like Saudi, they're a lot like the Chinese. They like things that are shiny, big brands, the Trumps, you know, are running this long-shot campaign for president. And it's pretty cool to get a cool seat, you know, get a seat with him at this fancy dinner, where you're a lifetime member.
So, there could be kind of more innocent explanations. And there could be more nefarious explanations. And we need to kind of wait and see where the -- or dig and see where the evidence leads us.
HAYES: Right. All right, Julia Ioffe, thanks for your time tonight.
Still to come, does the president actually know what's in the controversial surveillance bill that just passed in the senate? I'll get Republican Senator Rand Paul to weigh in ahead.
And Gorka rides again in tonight's Thing One, Thing Two next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Thing One tonight, remember Sebastian Gorka? He's one of those short-lived Trump administration's cast of characters, an adviser whose duties were never really clear, other than going on TV and saying things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN GORKA, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: The message I have, it's a very simple one, it's a bumper sticker, Sean, the era of the pajama boy is over January 20th, and the alpha males are back. Somebody has to be the president's pit bull, and I'm ready. I'm going to take it to them.
More people watch Nick at Night cartoons than CNN today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Gorka was supposedly a deputy assistant to the president, focusing on national security and terrorism. But there's conflicting reporting on whether he ever even had a security clearance, which is a thing you would need to serve the president in matters of national security and terrorism.
Well, today we learned why Gorka might not have gotten that security clearance, and it's not because he parked his art war (ph) Mustang, Alphamobile, on a D.C. sidewalk. No, it's something more serious. And it's Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: So, Sebastian Gorka never had a security clearance in his nebulous role as adviser to President Trump. We think we may have learned why. It appears the Hungarian police have an active warrant out for Gorka's arrest for a charge of firearm or ammunition abuse issued on September 17, 2016, according to Buzzfeed news, which cited a Hungarian publication posting this arrest warrant.
Details are few, but it was filed in Budapest and could stem from an incident as far back as 2009. Now, Gorka told The Washington Examiner, quote, the reported date was in 2009 and I moved to America a year earlier in 2008. More fake news.
But he did not respond when asked if he was saying he was not in Hungary during the time of the alleged offense.
So for the entire seven months that Sebastian Gorka was in the White House, he might have been wanted by the Hungarian police.
The Trump administration in its vetting might also have gotten a clue from the fact that Gorka was denied a security clearance in hungary back in 2002 in his failed attempt to have a political career there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORKA: The message I have, it's a very simple one, it's a bumper sticker, Sean, the era of the pajama boy is over January 20 and the alpha males are back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; NBC's Garrett Haake on Capitol Hill, the president tweeting about the CR this morning that cannot be helping.
GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS: No, Chris. If you hear a loud banging sound at any point during my live shot, it's possible that Paul Ryan is slamming his head into his desk in his office behind me. With the president this morning essentially using Twitter to negotiate against House Republicans' position on this case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The man who wrote The Art of the Deal once again inserted some chaos into the law making process this morning tweeting out, "CHIP should be part of a long-term solution, not a 30-day or short-term extension," except that was the exact thing Republicans were planning on passing and did pass actually tonight.
Last week, literally responding to direction from a man talking to him on the TV, the president came out against his own position on FISA. "House votes on controversial FISA Act today. This is the act they may have been used with the help of the discredited and phony dossier to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump campaign by the previous administration and others.
Two hours later, a walkback. "With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it. Get smart."
FISA passed the Senate today and it heads to President Trump's desk for his signature. I asked Senator Rand Paul, a steadfast opponent of the bill if he thinks the president actually understands FISA, next.
HAYES: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky had argued for changes to FISA siting concerns of American's privacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: People want reauthorization. They are worried about the potential good of this program spying on foreigners and foreign land, but I think they are not mutually exclusive. I think you can be for reauthorization and for reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Senator Rand Paul joins me now. Senator, the vote did not go your way in the Senate on Section 702 FISA re-authorization today. It seemed that morning last week you were able to convince the president. Have you been talking to him since then about this bill? Do you think you can you still persuade him not to sign it?
PAUL: Probably not. I think it's probably a matter of, and I can't really speak for the president's thought process on this, but maybe of having mixed feelings and getting mixed messages from people. From me he got the message that the bill really didn't have significant reform.
You know, the program, FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is supposed to be about spying on foreigners on foreign land, but millions of American's data gets caught up in that. And the side that passed the bill said we fixed that, there is a warrant requirement and we push back and say the warrant requirement would apply to a very small amount of active FBI investigations but still, random searches but an FBI agent that has a dispute with their girlfriend, boyfriend, doesn't like a Republican, doesn't like a Democrat, has a bias for some reason, still won't be checked and balanced by a warrant, and so we think it was inadequate reform.
I don't know the president's position, but my position really is that the American people really do deserve privacy and nobody should listen to your phone call ever without a warrant.
HAYES: You have obvious command of this policy issue. It's something you're invested in and been talking about a lot. You can talk about specifics of the way it functions. Are you confident the President of the United States has command of this?
PAUL: I think a lot of people on both sides in the House of Representatives, the Senate and maybe the executive branch are conscious of then instincts on that the same way the American people are conscious. Most people don't know what 702 is or all these numbers mean, but they are conscious of the fact that they don't think their phone calls should be eavesdropped upon.
I think the president is very aware of the issue and the standpoint of privacy. I think he feels like some in the intelligence community have actually abused their privilege and power to unmask members of his team. So I think he feels it in a very personal way.
As far as the details of it, I think there are many people who give him advice and call him and try to persuade him, such as the speaker of the house, who say don't worry, Mr. President, we fixed those problems but to me they gave lip service and didn't really fix the problem.
HAYES: The issue to me is that's the way a president operates. There is different vectors coming into him and what you need is someone at the top that has sufficient knowledge, curiosity, command and judgment to be able to weigh the arguments coming into independent conclusion.
My question to you is are you confident he knows enough literally about what he's going to be signing to make those determinations?
PAUL: Yeah, I wouldn't make a judgment that he doesn't but I would also say that the same information comes in to every senator and to every congressman and I would say that many of them were misled by the establishment, by the intelligence community.
Here's the rub and this is why we have so much trouble with this issue, people say well, I know my policeman. He lives next door to me. I know an FBI agent, he's a good person. Even President Obama succumbed to this to a certain extent when he a signed legislation saying he could definitely detained an American citizen. President Obama said but I'm a good man, I wouldn't do that. But government is not about when we have good men or women ruling us, it's about when we may have someone that doesn't have any understanding or heart felt belief in our civil liberties.
PAUL: But I will say it's not just the president. There are many other people who hear from both sides and get persuaded, but I think that most Americans, if they heard the argument directly from those of us trying to defend our privacy, I think most Americans would side with us. The judge should have to give approval before anyone listens to your phone conversation.
HAYES: You're a no on the continuing resolution which of course is the big issue before the Senate right now. By my count you got Mike Grounds no, Lindsay Graham no, you no, John McCain undergoing medical treatment, there is not enough votes to pass a continuing resolution right now just with Republicans. Why are you a no?
PAUL: You know, I'm a no primarily for spending reasons. I think the debt -- this year the deficit will be close to $800 billion. Next year projected to be a trillion dollars. And interestingly Congress puts up spending caps, both sides, military and non-military has spending caps and we exceeded them like hundreds of times. We started in the 1990s trying to have self- restraint in both sides and frankly now, Republicans worse than Democrats, want to exceed the spending caps.
So for me it's not about DACA, for many Democrats it's that they want the DACA fix to be part of spending. I'm open to a compromise on DACA and I'm open to a solution, but that's not particularly for me the reason is more debt and spending then it is specifically immigration.
HAYES: That sentence right there is important just to highlight. It's about debt and spending, which are distinct. Debt is the balance sheet that has inflows and outflows. You just voted for a tax bill that will increase the deficit by 1.2 trillion dollars. If debt is the concern, you probably would have voted a different way. Spending is actually the issue. I feel like people conflate those.
PAUL: Yes and no. I would say that I voted for the tax cut knowing that if we did nothing on spending it would possibly increase the debt. I've been consistent in always voting to cut spending and even on that bill, it was done through budget reconciliation. I introduced an amendment that said we have to contain all spending and you know how many votes I got, I got four votes total myself --
HAYES: That's great.
PAUL: Nobody cares about spending.
HAYES: That may or may not be true. I'm inclined to think the Republican party doesn't actually care that much about spending.
PAUL: The Democrats don't, either.
HAYES: Sure --
PAUL: To be clear, both parties don't care, other than a few of us. Both parties don't care about the debt. That's an accurate statement.
HAYES: You conflated the two again. I just want to be clear. You're a smart enough man to know that the vote you're casting, you said yeah, I wanted to get caps on spending and I only got four votes, et cetera. You're a smart enough individual, you've been there a long enough time, your father was a member of Congress, to know that that vote was functionally a vote to increase the deficit and debt, and if that's the primary thing that you're worried about, then why did you vote yes.
PAUL: No, I think that's an opinion. I care about the debt as much or more than anybody. And really I would say if there is hypocrisy it's on the side of Democrats who are against the tax cut because it would increase the debt but have never one day in their lives voted against any spending. They are on half of the ledger, they are against tax cuts but they are not against any of the spending, and really, overall what drives it, if you didn't cut taxes at all, we're still in debt because of excess spending.
HAYES: Senator Rand Paul, thanks for joining me. I appreciate it.
PAUL: Thank you.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening.
The Rachel Maddow Show starts now. Good evening Rachel.
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