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Trump now willing to talk to Mueller under oath Transcript 1/24/18 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Bob Bauer

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 24, 2018 Guest: Bob Bauer

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- straight on that continent. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he`s been treated very, very unfairly by the media.

HAYES: An NBC News exclusive.


HAYES: Tonight as more high profile interviews with Robert Mueller come to light, new details about Michael Flynn`s meeting with the Fbi.

AMERICAN CROWD: Lock him up.

HAYES: And new questions about when the President knew Flynn lied, why it`s so crucial.

TRUMP: Flynn lied and they destroyed his life. I think it`s a shame.

HAYES: Then, Adam Schiff on the Republican effort to disrupt the Mueller probe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A secret society? Let`s stop there. A secret society?

HAYES: And why the President`s alleged affair with an adult actress maybe a boon to sharks everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love to prove that, wouldn`t you?

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We begin with breaking news this evening. Tonight, speaking with reporters, the President has directly addressed Robert Mueller`s investigation into himself and his campaign and answered a key question about the next steps in that probe. Will the President of the United States sit for an in- person interview with Mueller`s team?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Mueller?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m looking forward to it actually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to? Do you have a date set?

TRUMP: Here`s the story, just so you`d understand. There`s been no collusion whatsoever, there`s no obstruction whatsoever, and I`m looking forward to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I don`t know. No, I guess you`re talking about two or three weeks, but I would love to do it. You know, again, I have to say subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you do it under oath, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Did Hillary do it under oath?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea but I`m not asking her.

TRUMP: I think you have an idea. Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. Do you not have an idea? Do you really not have an idea? I`ll give you an idea. She didn`t do it under oath, but I would do it under oath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To reach a higher standard, you would do it under oath.

TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath, absolutely.


HAYES: A note here, the President does not have to be under oath for him to perjure himself. No ones has to be under oath to perjure yourself if a federal agent is present. You can ask Michael Flynn about that. The president made those comments tonight in an informal session with reporters in a so much strange scene in Chief of Staff John Kelly`s office. You can see everyone crowded around there where he also sounded off on potential charges of obstruction of justice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Robert Mueller will be fair to you in this larger investigation?

TRUMP: We`re going to find out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about it?

TRUMP: Because here`s what we`ll say and everybody says. No collusion. There`s no collusion. Now they`re saying oh, well, did he fight back?


TRUMP: You fight back. Oh, it`s obstruction. So here`s the thing. I hope so.


HAYES: MSNBC Contributor Carol Leonnig is a National Reporter for the Washington Post and MSNBC Political Analyst Robert Costa is a National Political Reporter, also from the Washington Post. And let me start with you, Robert. The Donald Trump I would love to, A, it`s conditional, B, he says subject to my attorney and, C, we now have a statement from Ty Cobb saying that he`s ready meet with them but he`ll be guided by the advice of his personal counsel. What do you make of him making that statement tonight?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: A Wednesday curveball, Chris. The President`s lawyers have been thinking for weeks if not months about how they`re going to handle the invitation from the Mueller team. Will they respond that they`d like to do written statement or written answers? Will he actually appear and have an informal interview, would it be under oath, in a formal interview process? All of thighs are things that were supposed to be negotiated according to sources close to the President`s team. But now the President on record to reporters today says he`s willing to talk and willing to talk soon.

HAYES: To follow up on that, Robert, any sense this was preplanned? This seemed pretty impromptu.

COSTA: According to people inside of the White House, they were taken aback that the President decided to walk down to the White House. You never know with President Trump as he`s trying to make it look impromptu or not, but people inside of the West Wing were certainly taken aback that he did this today.

HAYES: Carol, the President was asked about obstruction. I thought it was interesting. He doesn`t say of course, of course, I did could not obstruct justice. He says you fight back, they call it obstruction which is a different thing.

CAROL LEONNIG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it`s interesting to me too, Chris. I mean, clearly, you know, to Bob`s point, this way off the script that the White House and even the President`s lawyers probably had encouraged the President to follow. But the President speaks in the language of a pugilist. I mean, everything is about a fight and who`s tough and who`s strong and who`s the best and the biggest. And in this language, he`s also basically saying, hey, they can`t get me on collusion so now they`re going to, because I fought back, they`re going to come after me for obstruction. That`s how I read his statement. And it struck me as interesting as if maybe it hasn`t become clear to him or he hasn`t been sort of briefed on what obstruction means. Obstruction is when you try to thwart a legitimate criminal investigation, and that thwarting could have legal jeopardy for him.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, I would -- I would imagine that there are people out there who have faced charges of obstruction of justice who would characterize what they did as fighting back against what was happening to them. Robert, I want to play to you the exchange over the former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, of course, who has become a bit of a lightning rod thanks to the President and his allies who have targeted him for censure and for condemnation. He is the man who`s reported yesterday in your newspaper. Of course, the president asked him who he voted for. This is the exchanging about Andy McCabe. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should McCabe go, Mr. President? Should McCabe go?

TRUMP: Well, McCabe got more than $500,000 from essentially Hillary Clinton and is he investigating Hillary Clinton?


TRUMP: Do you remember -- did anybody hear many of my speeches where I talked about McCabe? He was the star of my speech. This isn`t now. And I said a man who was more or less in charge of -- the wife got $500,000 from Terry. Now Terry is Hillary. And yes, I mean --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you regret having him at your Acting FBI Director.

TRUMP: You know what, I keep out of it. You`d find that hard to believe. I keep out of it. That`s the way it fell. He`s been there. It`s one of those things. But he was the star of many of my speeches.


HAYES: Bob, I`ve heard that the President and other people reported the President is somewhat obsessed with Andrew McCabe and he certainly sounds it there.

COSTA: There`s a clamor on the right about this entire federal probe about the investigations on Capitol Hill and Mr. McCabe has become a target of a lot of that criticism. It has not really been denied by the President, at least in that exact exchange about whether he asked Mr. McCabe or not about his political affiliation or his vote in the 2016 election. But that question according to people close to Andrew McCabe raised alarm in the Justice Department, in the legal community about what the President was perhaps implying.

HAYES: Does this change anything, Carol, the President saying on the record in front of everyone I`d love to talk to him? I mean, it was just a few weeks ago, he said I`ll sign whatever you bring to me to the folks who are hammering out a DACA and then ripped it up. So does it change anything for him to say, as we see him say I would love to talk to Mueller?

LEONNIG: Well, it certainly weakens his personal lawyers` ability to be a little tough in the opening bid of the negotiation for the interview. Remember, we reported yesterday, my colleague and I Josh Dawsey that people close to the President said that his lawyers were planning on next week having a significant negotiation with Mueller`s team about what the parameters were, how much would be in writing, how much would be one-on-one face-to-face and some other terms I`m sure about audiotape, videotape, et cetera. So this doesn`t help if they wanted to start kind of with a low bided of asking for less time in person because the President is essentially saying come on. I`m ready.

HAYES: Carol Leonnig and Robert Costa, thanks for being here. It was over one year ago or one year ago today actually that two FBI agents walked into the White House to question Michael Flynn about his phone call with the Russian Ambassador. Now, just two days before that, Flynn had been sworn in as National Security Adviser taking an oath to uphold the Constitution, presumably the proudest day of his professional life. But in that interview just two days later, a year ago today, Flynn lied to those FBI agents, a federal crime. He told them he did not talk to the Ambassador of Russia about new sanctions imposed against Russia for interfering in the election. We now know that Flynn kept that lie to himself. NBC News reporting today he didn`t tell anyone at the White House including the President about his interview with the FBI. Instead, they had to find out about it from the Justice Department. 0It wasn`t until two days later that Sally Yates, who was then the Acting Attorney General for the United States, goes over to the White House to visit the White House Counsel Don McGahn at his office to warn him directly in person about what just happened, about what Flynn did, about the fact he lied. Yates recounted that meeting in Congressional testimony last May though she misstated the date of Flynn`s interview.

SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: We began our meeting telling him that there had been press accounts of statements from the Vice President and others that related conduct that Mr. Flynn had been involved in that we knew not to be the truth. We also told the White House Counsel that will General Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI on February 24th. Mr. McGahn asked me how he did and I declined to give him an answer to that. The Russians also knew about what General Flynn had done and the Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the Vice President and others. That created a compromised situation, a situation where the National Security Adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.


HAYES: Two days after her conversation with McGahn, Yates was fired after publicly defying the President`s travel ban. Flynn on the other hand, lasted another three weeks at the White House, forced to resign only and only after the substance of his calls with the Russian Ambassador was revealed in the press. Last month, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with Special Counsel`s Russia investigation. We know that last year, after Yates told the White House Counsel about Flynn, McGahn then passed that information on to a small group of senior White House officials, then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, then-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and the President of the United States himself. And now Robert Mueller wants to talk to them all. NBC News reported today, Sally Yates already spoke extensively with Mueller`s investigators last year. Reince Priebus was, too. McGahn reportedly sat for two days of interviews with the Special Counsel`s team. Next up is Steve Bannon. A source is telling NBC he`s expected to be questioned by the end of this month. Then, comes the President of the United States. Bob Bauer served as White House Counsel to President Barack Obama. And let`s start on putting yourself in the position of Don McGahn because he has a job that you held. The Acting Attorney of the United States comes over and says your National Security Adviser lied to the FBI a few days ago, or it doesn`t quite say that, is lying in the press or lying to the Vice President, saying things that are untrue and was questioned by the FBI and then declines to tell you how he did, what are you thinking if you`re Don McGahn?

BOB BAUER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I don`t know all the facts that were known to Don McGahn at the time and so it`s very difficult for me to say what Don McGahn did or what I would do if I were precisely in Don McGahn`s place. However, it is strange that somehow according to NBC report, today, nobody inquired enough to know anything about those lies until after Flynn had already left the White House. That seems --

HAYES: Strange.

BAUER: Implausible frankly, in my view.

HAYES: Yes, it seems that three weeks go by that you start to at the very least, you bring him in, you talk to him, some sort of conversations emanate out of that other than just --

BAUER: I would assume, so I would assume that Flynn would have retained an attorney. I think at that point somebody could have spoken with the attorney to get a sense of what potential problem was. But the notion that nothing happened until he after left the White House, was no knowledge of this potential falsehood intel or this pled to falsehood intel after he left the White House seems to me a highly fanciful.

HAYES: The President`s comments tonight about wanting to speak to Mueller, what do you make of that?

BAUER: To be honest, not much. He said originally, by the way, some time ago, he said that he was prepared to talk to Mueller, then he said, well, we`ll see. Even tonight in this press report, he says it`s, of course, subject to the lawyers and all that. And his lawyers follow up by saying well, he`ll have to do it under your guidance. So you know, this impromptu setting, I don`t think he`s committed himself to anything.

HAYES: What do you imagine that negotiation looks like? It`s a very big deal. I mean, that`s another place to sort of putting yourself in the shoes and obviously not, you know, you weren`t there during this period of time. But it`s the kind of thing a White House Counsel might find themselves negotiating, right? What do you -- what do you imagine that negotiation looks like?

BAUER: On the part of the President`s lawyers?


BAUER: With the special counsel`s team?


BAUER: They want obviously the most contained secure flexible setting possible for the President. You`ve heard a lot of reports about the potential for a perjury trap. They`ll be actively concerned about that. They have a client who`s not disciplined in the way he speaks. In fact, if we`re to believe that he has some sort of defiance syndrome where he`s eager not to do what he`s been told to do which would certainly raise significant issues for his lawyers giving him advice about how to conduct himself in the interview. So they`re going to be looking to structure an arrangement that protects him if you will, against his own worst instincts, his own hyperbolic tendencies and Mueller is obviously going to want the widest possible access with the fewest restrictions.

HAYES: If Donald Trump was your client, would you be saying, no way? Would you be trying everything you can to make sure he doesn`t talk to Mueller?

BAUER: Well, that`s a tricky question. I would like to believe -- I would like to believe that as President of the United States he understands that he is uniquely responsible for giving testimony in this case.

HAYES: Why not? Why?

BAUER: In the sense that presidents have to observe the norm very, very specifically they are not above the law. He stands the stride the federal government, the law enforcement process, and for him to refuse to give testimony on any ground over than the Fifth Amendment is a violation of the norm, a violation of his responsibility to cooperate with the law enforcement process.

HAYES: Right, but he`s unbound by them. This is a guy, who -- I mean, could you ever imagine a President saying to the Acting Director of the FBI who would you vote for?

BAUER: No, and he defended it tonight on top of that. He seems to think it`s fine. And Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier today in her press conference also said she didn`t think the American public cared at all about that.

HAYES: I guess my point is if you don`t buy into all this stuff --

BAUER: Correct.

HAYES: -- the norms and you know, you`re not supposed to interfere with the Justice Department, you`re not supposed to ask for a loyalty pledge from the head of your FBI, then if you don`t buy that, then you could also just try to say yes, I`m not going to talk to you.

BAUER: Well, that`s absolutely correct. And bear in mind at the same time, the Republicans are mounting an assault on Mueller. So they may be giving him covering fire to give him the flexibility at some point to say well, I would have talked to Mueller but now I find out there are all these potential problems with the FBI and the DOJ and frankly until that`s cleared up, I`m really not in the position to talk to them.

HAYES: There`s a remarkable range of people that have already talked to Mueller. I mean, this is the national security officials that have interviewed Dan Coats, Mike Rogers, Mike Pompeo, the CIA Director, and you have the Trump administration officials, Jeff Sessions, Kushner, McGahn, two days, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller, Keith Kellogg, it does seem to me that when all these people have already talked, it`s sort of the most in some ways dangerous time to talk at the end.

BAUER: That`s why the interviews take place, they take place at the end and precisely so that the interviewers bring all the accumulated information to the interview for sure. Let`s bear in mind also if Trump decides and his lawyers conclude that he does not want to testify and he makes up basically a story about how he simply can`t trust in the Special Counsel`s process, they may point to all the other interviews and say, look, he cooperated. I mean, he certainly didn`t direct these people not to participate. And so, it`s against that background he reluctantly concludes he might say that he cannot give that interview.

HAYES: All right, Bob Bauer, thanks for your time. Still to come, why the Department of Justice is warning Republicans interfering with the Mueller probe. Congressman Adam Schiff joins me to talk about that ahead. And next, why today`s news regarding Flynn`s lie to the FBI casts new light on what the President knew and when he knew it. That story in two minutes.



TRUMP: Mike Flynn is a fine person. And I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence, very simple.


HAYES: All right, the White House line has always been President Trump fired Michael Flynn because, as you heard there he lied to Vice President Pence. That`s their story and they`ve always stuck to it until randomly this past December, ten months later the day after news broke that Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was cooperating with the Mueller investigation, then out of nowhere the story changes because that is when Trump tweeted I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. OK, that tweet made some news because if the President knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he fired him, and that means the President knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he met with FBI Director James Comey the next day and when he asked him according to Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn. That moment asking your FBI Director to not pursue a criminal infraction you know happened, well, that sounds a lot like obstruction of justice. Which might explain why soon after that tweet blew up, Trump`s lawyer John Dowd rides to the rescue making the somewhat implausible claim that he wrote the tweet. No, not Trump, it was his lawyer out of nowhere for no reason who just decided to tweet in his client`s name who made this sloppy and unfortunate mistake. OK, sure. But what we learned today fills in some of the holes about what Trump knew when he fired Mike Flynn and when he knew it. It all took place during a 20-day period in early 2017. January 24th, the FBI comes to the White House and interviews National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. This is two days after he`s been sworn to that position. This is the interview in which Flynn lies to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. These are the lies for which he was later indicted. Flynn reportedly tells no one else at the White House about this FBI interview. Two days later, January 26th, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates with the an aide goes to the White House to tell White House Counsel Don McGahn that based on intelligence agency monitoring, Flynn lied to Mike Pence about not discussing sanctions with Kislyak which in case it`s not clear, is a very big deal to her. She`s over there basically to warn them. But Yates also told McGahn something else.


YATES: We also told the White House Counsel that General Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI. Mr. McGahn asked me how he did and I declined to give him an answer to that. Mr. McGahn called me back the next morning. One of the questions that Mr. McGahn asked me when I went back over the second day was essentially why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another White House official?


HAYES: OK. So as you just heard, McGahn called Yates back to the White House the next day, January 27th, with further questions about Flynn. That was a morning meeting. They`re talking in the morning. And that very same day, around lunchtime so presumably shortly after Yates and McGahn wraup up talking, the President out of nowhere invites James Comey over to the White House for dinner according to Comey.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: He called me at my desk at lunchtime and asked me was I free for dinner that night. He called himself and said can you come over for dinner tonight. And I said yes, sir.


HAYES: That evening, January 27th, President Trump and Comey have dinner at the White House. And that is when Comey says Trump asked for his loyalty. About two weeks later, February 13th, President Trump fires Flynn on the same day the Washington Post reports the White House had known for weeks about what was really discussed in the Flynn and Kislyak conversations. February 14th, the very next day, in an Oval Office meeting, Trump asked Comey to end the investigation of Flynn according to Comey. MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman, former Assistant Prosecutor for Watergate joins me now. And man, oh, man, whatever happened in the underlying Russia question, and this all relates, right, because the lies are about that.


HAYES: Just this set of facts, the fact that he said in the interview with Lester Holt, I fired him over the Russia thing, asking Andy McCabe on his day who he voted for, it really does look like you`ve got a plausible case for obstruction in the face.

AKERMAN: Beyond a reasonable doubt, I would say --

HAYES: Oh, that`s very confident of you.

AKERMAN: Yes, I`m very confident. I mean, what you didn`t include in that timeline was the December 28th timeline when President Obama announced the sanctions on Russia for interfering in the election. That same day there was a call between Flynn and Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador. Then Flynn, like a good soldier, calls of his friends at the White House down at Mar-a- Lago to tell them that he got this call and what should I say in return.

HAYES: Including chains of e-mails in which K.T. McFarland and others are saying what -- he`s going to talk about sanctions, what did she say? What did she say? They all knew.

AKERMAN: They all knew. And you`ve got to believe Donald Trump knew, too.

HAYES: That is not established, I should say. It` is not --

AKERMAN: That is not established, but let`s face it, he`s the President. All these people work for the President. Where are they? Mar-a-Lago. He might have been playing golf but I guarantee you at some point, somebody filled him in on what was going on.

HAYES: Let`s say the President and his people tell Flynn, yes, tell them don`t worry about the sanctions. We`re going -- you know, whatever he says about the sanctions. And then Flynn gets caught by the FBI and he lies about it. They have the intercepts. The President does everything that we know he did with Comey, et cetera. If they don`t fire Flynn, ultimately it becomes public. Is that an obstruction case right there?

AKERMAN: Yes, that`s an obstruction case.


AKERMAN: Because you`ve got the material -- why? Because he`s trying to stop the investigation into Flynn. He knows that Flynn lied. And that lie is extremely material because it relates to what occurred during the campaign and the coordination between Russia and the campaign and Trump knows it.

HAYES: OK, well, now, here`s where stuff gets interesting and dicey. We saw a preview of what the argument is going to be from the president just now in that press gaggle. They`re going to say you haven`t proved anything underlying. You have no smoking gun. There is no collusion. You`re trying to get us on some fighting back. Do you think in the absence of establishing that the campaign was working with the Russian government to adversely affect the election that they can plausibly go after the President for obstruction?

AKERMAN: Sure they can. I mean, that`s what they did in Watergate. Very few of the top people, none of them were indicted for the break-in. They were all indicted for the cover-up. But here, I think you`re going to have proof.

HAYES: The origin of the phrases.

AKERMAN: Right, I mean, exactly. I think you`re going to have proof here of the underlying crime and the cover-up because what Flynn pled guilty to the lie about sanctions, related to the coordination between Russia and the campaign. So he`s got a lot to say.

HAYES: There`s this question now about the President talking to Mueller and they`re sort of circling each other. You heard Bob Bauer here just right before. What would your -- what would your advice be?

AKERMAN: My advice to who, to the president?

HAYES: To the President of the United States. I mean, if you`re a very accomplished lawyer, you would -- what do you say? Like don`t -- whatever you can, avoid it, right.

AKERMAN: Take the Fifth. What choice do you have? A truthful answer would tend to incriminate you. There is no --

HAYES: You think you`d tell him to take the Fifth? I mean, you have to know what the underlying facts are.

AKERMAN: I still would. I mean, there`s no way you wouldn`t tell this particular client to take the Fifth. But he`s in a difficult position. He`s not just like any white collar criminal because if he takes the Fifth, he`s basically saying I`m guilty. He`s the President of the United States.

HAYES: I mean, the President can`t take the Fifth.

AKERMAN: No, of course not.

HAYES: And even Nixon didn`t do that.

AKERMAN: No. None of Nixon`s people did. That`s why they all went in and testified before the grand jury and they were all convicted of perjury.

HAYES: Because they didn`t take the Fifth.

AKERMAN: Right. Because they were stuck between a rock and hard place.

HAYES: Right. Because you can`t take the Fifth because you look guilty. So, OK, but if you can`t take the Fifth, I mean, I guess the question is, I guess my sort of Trump radar having watched him now operate in very close proximity day after day, I would love to in two weeks, is Trump ease for no way in hell, right? I just don`t buy that he`s going to do it. And I guess the question, is there a way out short of taking the Fifth for them not to talk to Mueller.

AKERMAN: No, I don`t think there is because ultimately, they can serve him with a grand jury subpoena. There isn`t a court in the country that`s not going to enforce that subpoena. This is U.S. v Nixon all over again where they forced President Nixon to produce these tapes. He has gotten --

HAYES: You think that would apply -- you think that would apply here. It would be black and white that a court would say yes, you can subpoena the President of the United States?

AKERMAN: Yes, the nine zip in the Supreme Court. They say that you can sue the president, in a civil case and the president has to respond to it.

HAYES: So, is that why they`re negotiating in the first place about the terms of this? I mean, you (INAUDIBLE)

AKERMAN: You`re assuming that they`re negotiating. I mean, the fact is, Mueller has all the cards. At the end of the day, he`s got a grand jury subpoena. I think that the most they`re going to give in to say OK, we`ll do this in a conference room at the White House but it`s going to be under oath and it`s going to be videotaped because this is a guy who is going to claim even the transcript isn`t truthful and will even claim that the videotape isn`t really him.

HAYES: That is -- I mean that is -- I had not encountered that. But of course, Bill Clinton, when he was deposed, there was videotape. I imagine they`re going to push for that will, as well which is a remarkable thing to consider. Nick Akerman, thank you.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, the conspiracy theories exploding from Trump T.V. to Capitol Hill including one that has the Justice Department warning a Republican Congressman about extraordinarily reckless behavior. That`s ahead.


HAYES: Senator Ron Johnson is trying to explain himself today after baselessly suggesting that he has inside knowledge concerning, get this, a supposed secret society in the FBI determined to take down Trump. This all started Monday when Representative Trey Gowdy and John Ratcliffe told Trump T.V. two former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page had referenced the alleged secret society in a text message.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There`s a text exchange between these two FBI agents, these two supposed to be objective, fact-centric FBI agents saying perhaps this is the first meeting of the secret society. So of course, I`m going to want to know what`s secret society are you talking about.


HAYES: I would like to know that too because the texts haven`t been released and it sure sounds an awful lot at least from where we`re sitting like the agents were being sarcastic. Who knows? That did not stop Trump T.V. from running absolutely wild with the secret society claim.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Who`s in the secret society? Let`s see, could it be Page and Strzok and McCabe and Comey and let`s see, Bruce Orr, could it be Rod Rosenstein? Who else is in the special secret society?


HAYES: Yeah. Who else? Do they wear costumes and sing songs and light candles in a vault?

Enter Senator Ron Johnson who suggested he had inside information about the supposed secret society from a secret informant.


SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: The secret society. We have an informant that`s talking about a group that were holding secret meetings off site.

There`s so much smoke here, there`s so much suspicion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s stop there. A secret society, a secret meetings off site of the Justice Department.

JOHNSON: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have an informant saying that?



HAYES: Johnson did not, in fact, have an informant saying the secret society was having secret off site meetings. And he admitted that what he was saying the day previous was untruthful this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did your informant confirm these off site meetings took place?

JOHNSON: No, listen, I never -- the term secret society comes from Strzok and Page. All I said when I read that, it didn`t surprise me because we are the committee, the whistleblowers come to to talk about all kinds of problems throughout the federal government. And so I had of a group of people within the FBI holding secret off site meetings. So, I was just of kind of connecting the dots, so that didn`t surprise me when I heard that term.

But, again, that`s Strzok and Page`s term, not mine.


HAYES: All this is just one part of the central narrative, the story line being pounded into the ears and minds of viewers 24 hours a day being pushed by Trump and his allies who are working to undermine the Russia investigation by claiming that the frankly generally conservative FBI is somehow a hopelessly biased outfit out to get the Republican president.

When we come back, I`ll speak to Congressman Adam Schiff about another conservative Republican effort to discredit the FBI, one being pushed by House intelligence committee chair Devin Nunes, who is now being warned by the Trump Justice Department about pursuing, quote, extraordinarily reckless actions. That`s next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is abundantly clear that the entire Mueller investigation is a lie built on a foundation of corruption. The key reason that all Americans need to see this memo is that it names names. It says who was involved with who. I think that this will not end just with firings, I believe there are people who will go to jail.


HAEYS: That was Congressman Matt Gates on Trump TV hyping the contents of a classified memo being circulated by House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes, which reportedly alleges the FBI and DOJ engaged in abuses in an effort to destroy Donald Trump.

Nunes refuses to let the FBI or DOJ actually see the memo he wrote. And today, assistant attorney general Steven Boyd, who of course works for Jeff Sessions, is in the Trump administration, sent Nunes a letter saying it would be extraordinarily reckless for him to release it without review adding we do not understand see why the committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the intelligence community.

Joining me now now, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, Representative Adam Schiff of California.

What is this memo?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: It basically is something that Chairman Nunes had drafted to distort the facts to mislead the House members, and to carry political water for the White House.

Chris, it`s really a continuation of what we saw back in March of last year. On March 20th, we had our first open hearing with James Comey in which can revealed that there had been a counterintelligence investigation ongoing investigation of the Trump organization, or Trump campaign. That, the Republicans considered to be such a disaster, that it was immediately the next night that the chairman went on this midnight run to the White House purportedly got documents somewhere. He was providing to the White House showing corruption in the Obama administration of the intelligence community.

Of course, we later learned that that was a fraud, that he had obtained those materials from the White House itself.

Now we have a same, a similar effort by the chairman to put out this spinning, the spin memo along the same lines. And what was so astounding to me, Chris, about the FBI and DOJ letter is it reveals for the first time Chairman Nunes didn`t even read the underlying materials after making all this fuss and claiming all of this conspiracy, he didn`t even bother to take the time to read the materials that he was characterizing in this memo.

HAYES: So, wait a second. So this memo is characterizing underlying classified materials. Now, my understanding is the people who read the underlying materials it`s summarizing is a very relatively small group of people. Is that correct?

SCHIFF: Well, according to the Department of Justice, in their letter today, the only two members that read the underlying materials are myself and Trey Gowdy. And bear in mind that Mr. Gowdy is the same one who brought us those endless Benghazi conspiracy theories none of which ultimately proved to be true.

So, when I moved in the committee at the time the Republicans voted to provide this flawed document to the House, I made a motion to allow the members to read the underlying materials before they voted on characterizing them in such a distorted fashion. They voted that down. I moved to let the FBI.

HAYES: Whoa, wait a second. Wait. Wait a second. They chose to not allow to read the actual underlying materials that are issue that provide the ingredients for the memo? They actively chose to not read that stuff.

SCHIFF: That`s exactly right. To a person, the Republican members voted against allowing themselves to read the underlying materials that they were characterizing.

HAYES: Why would you vote to not read stuff? Why would you vote to not have access to read things?

SCHIFF: The point was they didn`t care what was in the underlying documents, they wanted to make a political statement. They wanted to feed the beast on Fox News. They wanted to do what they could to derail the Mueller investigation. At the end of the day, it was more important to them to circle the wagons around the president than it was support the men and women of the FBI, support an objective pursuit of the truth in the investigation by Mueller and by our committee, it was unfortunately a continuation of much of what you`re seeing since the beginning, and that is a priority on attacking the investigation rather than determining what Russia did and what help they may have had from the Trump campaign.

HAYES: How long have you and the chair Devin Nunes been together on this committee?

SCHIFF: You know, eight or 10 years. And up until last year, frankly, we had a very good working relationship. We passed a number of very consequential intelligence bills out of this committee. What really changed, changed on March 20 when we had that very important hearing with James Comey and I believe that the White House probably came down on him like a ton of bricks. He was their surrogate, and someone concocted that whole White House midnight run escapade. And ever since his agenda has not been get together truth on the Russia investigation, but going after the FBI, going after the intelligence community and carrying the president`s water, which is a terrible disservice to the country.

HAYES: My understanding is that Richard Burr, who is the Nunes counterpart in the Senate had asked to see the memo and was told he can`t see it.

SCHIFF: That`s correct, as I understand it. And remember the first iteration of this effort by the chairman was the whole unmasking fiasco where they spent months and months trying to problem that the Obama administration was engaged in some unmasking conspiracy, but could never prove that either. And when Chairman Burr was asked about whether the senate was going to do a like investigation he said, no, that`s just something that Nunes came up with, or made up.

And so I think we have a similar dynamic here.

HAYES: Related question. You just voted for the 702 reauthorization of FISA. It`s the part of the government program that allows surveillance of foreign nationals, but it`s possible Americans can be in those interactions, right, an American can be a foreign national who has a FISA surveillance warrant out against them. A lot people iwth concerns about abuse of that program, a lot of Democrats voted against it. Given your concerns about the Trump administration, your concerns about Donald Trump, his respect for norms and the rule of law, why would you vote to give him that kind of authority?

SCHIFF: Well, I think it`s important to recognize we haven`t seen abuse of the 702 program. No one has used it to target -- reverse target Americans. There`s no evidence of any intentional effort to abuse the program. And we have, I think, a very serious set of safeguards that have made that so, that have protected against any potential abuse.

So, the steps that we were taking were designed to prevent future abuse of the program. And we imposed a warrant requirement where a 702 never had one in the past. Someone would like to have been broader than it is, but it was a compromise and I think a responsible one, because, you know, while I do, yes, have very serious concerns about the administration, I also have very serious concerns that we not prevent the intelligence community from getting the information they need to protect the country.

HAYES: I would note also your colleagues who are running saying about how this program has been abused all voted for it, as well. So, just so that everyone is clear about the record here.

SCHIFF: Chris, I do want to also point out, though, that my colleagues, some of the leaders of the effort to impose a warrant requirement in all cases that have gone down to read the Nunes memoranda found it to be as distorted as I do, and don`t help the cause that they were advocating.

HAYES: Representative Adam Schiff, thanks for being with me.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, new reporting that members of the Trump administration don`t trust the president to be alone with Chuck Schumer. Latest reporting on the DACA standoff coming up, and the president`s deep dark fears in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, do you know what Donald Trump hates more than long boring briefing documents? Sharks. They`re scarier than reading.

In 2013, he tweeted sharks are last on my list other than perhaps the losers and the haters of the world.

Yet oddly enough, according to the Hollywood Reporter, he had signed on to play the president in 2015`s Sharknado 3: Oh, Hell No, where in the third installment of the franchise sharks somehow make it to space.

Trump eventually backed out and made a run for the real presidency instead. But when the producers replaced him with Mark Cuban, his lawyer Michael Cohn reportedly said we`re going to sue you. We`re going to shut the entire show down, except they didn`t as with so many threats from the president.

Sharknado was a hit, Trump actually became president, that`s the world we live in, and folks forget about his hatred of sharks until a 2011 interview recently unearthed with, of course, Stormy Daniels, adult film actress who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump and was reportedly paid to keep it quiet.

She said while watching Shark Week with Trump, he told her, quote, "I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity to help sharks. I hope all the sharks die."

The president`s death wish for sharks has inspired people to do something that just might terrify him. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: One of the strangest bits about the Stormy Daniels interview is taht it revealed how the president is terrified of sharks and his hope that all the sharks die. And it sparked reactions like this one, people projecting images of dancing sharks on to Trump`s hotel in Washington.

And it appears Trump`s reported comments have caused a spike in donations to charities that protect sharks. We have been receiving donations in Trump`s name since the story was published, says Cynthia Wilgren (ph), chief executive office and co-founder of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

Fellow conservationist Captain Paul Watson added "anything that focuses attention on the plight of sharks worldwide is valuable, so I guess in that way the president did good service."

All this over something Trump has no business scared afraid of. According to Watson, quote, "it`s actually more dangerous to play golf than it is to go swimming in the ocean with sharks."



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: President Trump, you just can`t take yes for an answer. He`s rejected not one but two viable bipartisan deals, including one in which I put his most prominent campaign pledge on the table. What`s even more frustrating than President Trump`s intransigence is the way he seems amenable to these compromises before completely switching positions and backing off. Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-o.


HAYES: The pattern is simple, President Trump keeps agreeing to one position on DACA and then gets overruled by members of his staff or has his mind changed by the next person he talks to. So now the Daily Beast reported the president`s staff have a plan to keep him on the Republican straight and narrow, keep Donald Trump far away from Senator Chuck Schumer.

White House staff fear, President Trump, easily influenced as he is, will agree to something overly generous with the Democrat.

The president himself thwarted that plan tonight, telling reporters he would be fine inviting him the minority leader back to the White House.


TRUMP: I can tell you this, if you don`t have a wall, you don`t have DACA.

UNIDENTIFIED FAMEL: Are you going to invite Schumer back to the White House?

TRUMP: Schumer. I like him. I like him. I grew up with Schumer.


HAYES: I grew up with Schumer, too.

Barbara Boxer is a former United States senator from California, and Josh Marshall is the editor and publisher of Talking Points memo.

Senator Boxer, to Schumer`s point, I mean part of what I think makes this entire scenario impossible, and I don`t want to be hopeless, is that the person you need to negotiate with is the president, and you can`t negotiate with the president, because the president doesn`t actually have a position.

BARBARA BOXER, FORMER SENATOR: Well, I would say that he does. We all saw him make a pledge to write a bill out of love. It was on television, remember? And he was in that big meeting and my colleague said it, my former colleague, Senator Feinstein, said let`s just do a clean DACA bill.

So I think -- I take the president at his word when he was on national television saying that and 85 percent of the people -- wait, wait, 85 percent of the people want this.

HAYES: Right, but he said they struck three deals and then he walked away from it. I mean, it just seems to me the empowered factions in that White House, whether it`s Steven Miller, whether Senator Tom Cotton, whether it`s Steve King in the House of Representatives, it`s the House Freedom Caucus, John Kelly whom himself I think is a maximalist on all this stuff. Sure, the president will tell Chuck Schumer whatever he wants to hear, but they`re never actually going to carry through on the deal. It sounds like you think they could. You think it`s possible.

BOXER: I absolutely do, for one reason, 85 of the people want it. It is the most ridiculous thing to start deporting young people who came here through no fault of their own, who are stellar. I mean, we`ve got 5 million jobs in this country that go without anybody filling them. We don`t want to kick out of this country hard-working, productive young people. It`s a sin to do it. It`s a sin. I don`t care what religion you follow.

So bottom line is, I think the president should be very insulted by his staff, because they obviously don`t trust him alone in a room with my friend Chuck Schumer, for two New Yorkers.

HAYES: Who I grew up with.

BOXER: Well, I grew up with him politically. I know him since `85.

So the bottom line is it`s embarrassing for this president to have his top staff people say ooh, don`t let him in a room with Chuck. Chuck will eat his lunch. That`s not going to happen. They can still do this deal, because the two of them can have a rapport. You never know where this guy is from one day to the next, but 85 percent of the people say fix the Dreamer problem.

HAYES: So, here`s what he`s talking -- Josh I want you to react to that, but first this is him talking about we want to do a great job with DACA. I think it`s our issue. Try to untangle what his position is, take a listen.


TRUMP: We want to do a great job with DACA. I think it`s our issue. I think it`s a better issue for the Republicans than for the Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want citizenship for the Dreamers?

TRUMP: We`re going to morph into it -- it`s going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean, morph into it?

TRUMP: Over a period of 10 to 12 years. Somebody does a great job and worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job.


HAYES: Do a great job. It`s porridge. What do you think, to Senator Boxer`s point, do you think it`s possible to get a deal?

JOSH MARSHALL, TALKING POINTS MEMO: I`m a little less optimistic.

President Trump is ignorant and needy, so he will agree to anything proposed by the person who is holding his hand.

But the problem is we`ve seen this happen again and again where he had an agreement with Chuck and Nancy, as this agreement. Those never last.

So I think, to The Daily Beast story, this can, the president`s weirdness can cause optics problems for the White House staff, but they will always get him back on the anti-immigrant line. They always have. There`s not one case through the last year where one of these, one of these total flip- flops have ended up with him signing on with the -- with the non-right-wing position.

HAYES: You know, senator, this reminds me of something a campaign manager once said to me, which was never get cross wise with the candidate`s family -- their spouse, their brother, because whenever you`re done arguing with the candidate, whenever you tell the candidate you`ve got to do this, we`ve got to run this ad, they`re going to go home to their family, and that person`s going to get the last word. And that seems the problem here, like Schumer can strike a deal and Lindsey Graham can be in and out of there, but he`s going to go home to John Kelly and Steven Miller who are going to tell him we need to deport everyone.

BOXER: Well, maybe he`ll go home to Ivanka and maybe she`ll...

HAYES: Right, no, no, that`s true. Maybe that`s the voice.

BOXER: But I want to make a point here, you are missing one piece of it. This is an amazing story. These Dreamers, I just talked to Kamala Harris, my successor today. We chatted quite awhile about this, she says Barbara, it just breaks your heart when you see these young people come up, and they`re so scared. They`re going to be kicked out. They`re going to lose their education. They`re going to be separated from their family. When we start putting those stories on the air, Donald Trump, remember when he went after Syria, after he saw those babies? When he starts hearing these stories, I`m telling you, we have hope. We have hope.

HAYES: So to Senator Boxer`s point, I mean, it is the case that the politics here are very clear, like there are members of the U.S. military right now, people with active duty service right now, wondering if they`re going to get kicked out of the country because of this dither.

MARSHALL: It`s about as close as you get to national consensus, but President Trump has shown himself really immune to that. And, look, and Steven Miller is his mommy on this. He goes back to him and Steven Miller tell him what`s up.

And, look, I think the unfortunate thing is, is that that resonates with something very deep within Trump that he really does believe, which he is against immigration and he`s particularly against non-white immigration. That`s why we keep coming back to the same place.

HAYES: And he keep -- I mean, this is something that he articulated -- he articulated in the infamous -- from day one and in the infamous meeting.

It also -- I wonder if, the other thing they seem to be doing is changing the negotiation from border security to DACA to we`re going to redo all immigration policy.

MARHALL: Yeah, it`s really key -- they put out a statement today where they kind of outlined their four points. And there`s kind of wall security, you know, there`s final solution on DACA or final something or other. But the two other points are radically reducing amount of legal immigration and doing things that will make the remaining immigration much more white.

HAYES: Yeah. And Senator Boxer, just to be clear, there is no deal there, right, like Democrats aren`t going to change DACA status for like restricting immigration down to 1920s levels?

BOXER: No. I will tell you, the deal lies between the wall or border security. It doesn`t have to be a wall and DACA. I think that`s clear.

And I also think, my sources tell me, there are negotiations going on between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.

But I`ve got to tell you this, you know, as someone who lived and died by polls my whole life, every election, oh my god, where am I, how can I -- if he starts deporting these Dreamers -- and these Dreamers, they`re going to have the face -- he`s going to go down, you know, below 30 percent, 29 percent in the polls.

HAYES: I think you`re right about that, and the politics of it...

BOXER: It`s a powerful issue.

HAYES: Barbara Boxer and Josh Marshall, thanks for joining me, that is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.



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