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Fox news struggles to cover Trump/Mueller story Transcript 1/26/18 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, Nancy Gertner, Richard Painter, Kurt Bardella, Betsy Woodruff, Jon Ralston, Ted Lieu

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 26, 2018 Guest: Richard Blumenthal, Nancy Gertner, Richard Painter, Kurt Bardella, Betsy Woodruff, Jon Ralston, Ted Lieu


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: The plot to fire Mueller.

TRUMP: Typical New York Times fake stories.

HAYES: Tonight new concerns the threat to the Special Counsel hasn`t passed. And yet, one Republican is backing off his plan to protect Robert Mueller and what all this means for the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: I haven`t given it any thought.

HAYES: Then.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Yes, maybe Donald Trump wanted to fire the Special Counsel for conflict. Does he not have the right to raise those questions?

HAYES: Can Trump T.V. sustain the President through his latest crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president says it`s fake news. What do you think about that? Do you even care?

HAYES: And the Finance Chief for the Republican Party faces new allegations of sexual misconduct.

TRUMP: Steve is always colleague, he`s always got advice.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

TRUMP: His advice I like to listen to.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The President just landed back in Washington from his trip to Davos and he returns to yet more questions about his actions toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation. The President was attending the world economic forum where he got to rub elbows with the so-called globalist elite. The only thing on reporters minds at Davos was the blockbuster report by The New York Times the President ordered Mueller to be fired last June backing off only after his White House Counsel threatened to quit. This morning the President gave them a classic Trumpian non-denial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you seek to fire Mueller?

TRUMP: Fake news, folks, fake news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s your message today?

TRUMP: Typical New York Times fake stories.


HAYES: Back in August amid ongoing rumors, the President would make a move against Mueller, he denied the idea had even occurred to him.


TRUMP: I haven`t given it any thought. I mean, I`ve been reading about it from you people. You say I`m going to dismiss him. No, I`m not dismissing anybody. I mean, I want them to get on with the task. But I also want the Senate and the House to come out with their findings.


HAYES: But tonight, The New York Times report has been confirmed by multiple other outlets including this one. NBC News, Washington Post, Politico, even Trump T.V. and neither the White House nor anyone else named in the story has issued a formal denial. According to the Times, the President has wavered for months about whether he wants to fire Mueller which is an omnipresent concern among his legal team and close aides. In other words, they are still worried he might do it. And this revelation adds to what was already an extraordinary pattern of behavior by the President of the United States who, of course, is the subject of an ongoing investigation into whether he or his campaign conspired with a foreign adversary to criminally influence the 2016 election. At every turn, the President has sought to control, impede or end that very investigation.

A year ago, you`ll remember he asked then FBI Director James Comey for his loyalty in a private meeting according to Comey`s sworn testimony and then subsequently, asked Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn. When Comey did not comply, the President got his Justice Department to come up with a bogus excuse for firing the FBI Director, blaming it on his handling of the Clinton e-mail probe. Then the President turned around and admitted he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.


TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It`s an excuse.


HAYES: Before firing Comey, the President asked his top intelligence officials to intervene with Comey on the Russia probe on Trump`s behalf. He later pressured senior Republicans to end the Senate Intelligence Committee`s Russia inquiry, he pressured his Attorney General not to recuse himself from supervising the Justice Department`s investigation. And when Jeff Sessions went ahead and recused himself anyway, well, the President threatened repeatedly to fire him berating him publicly.

The President asked James Comey`s successor, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 election and after McCabe was replaced as Director by Trump appointee Chris Wray, the President pressured Wray through Sessions to fire McCabe altogether. Once again, it was only because someone threatened to quit, in this case, the FBI Director, the President did not succeed. The President told the reporters the other night all those actions, that entire pattern of behavior we just described was simply in his mind "fighting back."


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 that.

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


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


HAYES: Today, the top Democrat in the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Mark Warner expressed concerns about the President`s view of the American legal system.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: What bothers me so much is I don`t know if the President understands our system, understands that everybody has got to adhere to the law and when you`ve got a prosecutor looking into a matter, you`ve got to let that prosecutor finish his work. This President has continued to say there`s no there-there. Well, he is acting in absolutely the opposite way of someone who had nothing to hide.


HAYES: Senator Richard Blumenthal is a Democrat from Connecticut, a Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And I`ll start with the comments by Senator Warner. Do you agree with him that he`s acting as someone who has something to hide?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: He is acting as though he has something. He`s also acting like someone who has utter contempt for the rule of law. He has a right to fight back if he means the right to present arguments and evidence and a legal defense. He has no right to fire Jim Comey or Bob Mueller. He`s already fired, Comey. He says because the Russia thing is nothing. But in fact, if he fires Mueller because he similarly wants to stop an investigation or intimidate witnesses or withhold documents, that`s obstruction of justice. And the excellent summary that you`ve just given makes for a credible case of obstruction of justice against the President of the United States.

HAYES: So if that`s true, then what? I mean what -- I guess the question is what more, given what we already know, what more do you need to know?

BLUMENTHAL: The first point we need to know is that this investigation will be permitted to conclude with completeness and integrity. That`s why we need the bipartisan legislation that I and others have introduced that will stop the President from firing Robert Mueller and protect the integrity and independence of that investigation. That`s point number one. Second, we need to have all of the evidence subpoenaed and produced.

Not only to the Special Counsel but also to the judiciary committee including Donald Trump and Jared Kushner in their account of the June meetings that occurred. But most important, the President has to be sent the message that there will be a firestorm that Republicans and Democrats will join together in the kind of reaction that followed the Saturday Night Massacre during Watergate when there was a joint sense of outrage. The best way to send that message is through the Special Counsel protection legislation that I and others have introduced.

HAYES: You have cosponsors, Republican cosponsors on that. Who are they, if you can tell me?

BLUMENTHAL: They are Senators Graham and Tillis on the Republican side, Senators Coons and Senator Booker and Senator Whitehouse on our side. And there`s growing momentum for this legislation as a result of that remarkable report last night. And I think, by the way, this continued excellence in reporting is another sign that the heroes of this era are going to be the free press and the independent judiciary.

HAYES: But here`s.

BLUMENTHAL: But very significantly, Senator Grassley indicated that he was open to considering this legislation, as well.

HAYES: I mean, here`s the thing. It seems that some Republicans have moved in the opposite direction. Tom Tillis, you just mentioned is a co- sponsor. There`s a piece in the Daily Beast today saying that he says his bill isn`t urgent even after news Trump tried to fire Mueller, that he`s essentially backing off it. It`s not going to pass. And I can`t help but notice that we`ve been talking about this legislation you and I on this program for several months now with no seeming urgency from say the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to actually bring it up for a vote.

BLUMENTHAL: That`s very true, Chris. You`re right. And I`m disappointed in a number of my Republican colleagues who have failed to sense the urgency of this legislation and who have been silent over the last 24 hours after this extraordinary chilling, stunning, deeply scary report about the President acting, not just thinking, but acting to fire the Special Counsel. I am hoping that Senator Grassley`s statement that he`s open to considering this legislation and that there should be no firing will prompt others to follow his lead.

HAYES: All right, Senator Richard Blumenthal, thanks for your time tonight.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

HAYES: For more on the fallout from this, I`m joined by Richard Painter, former Chief White House Ethics Lawyer under George W. Bush and retired Federal Judge Nancy Gertner. Nancy, let me begin with you. It seems to me that this is going to end up in some court somewhere somehow that there`s no way the process just develops without some federal courts having to weigh in on where the boundaries are here. Is that your sense, as well as someone who was once a federal judge?

NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: Well, the problem here is, of course, because we`re talking about obstruction of justice vis-a-vis a president, you`re talking about an impeachment proceeding. And that`s where the line between politics and law get muddied. There won`t be an obstruction of justice charge against the President by way of indictment. So essentially the House of Representative and the Senate can define what obstruction of justice is and actually are not necessarily even bound by the legal definition of it. So I mean, what will be in court will be subpoenas, scope of the investigation, et cetera but the core accusations are going to be political.

HAYES: Richard, this is something that was in the New York Times story that I thought was interesting I want to read to you. To some extent I think the fact of the leaking is almost the most significant -- this is Politico, sorry -- to some extent I think the fact of the leaking is almost the most significant that we`ve reached an inflection point where the people at the center of things feel the need to redeem themselves at the expense of the President. As someone who worked at the White House, what do you make of that?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER CHIEF ETHICS LAWYER, WHITE HOUSE: Well, I don`t know who was leaking. A lot of people are leaking in this White House because President Trump throws his own people under the bus with regularity and people don`t last long at this White House. But this concern that President Trump is going to try and fire Robert Mueller is a real one. People in the White House are well aware of it and this is a reiteration of the exact same story that we have known about all along.

I can say that if President Trump chooses to fire Robert Mueller, there`s a very high chance he`s going to be removed from office. The Republicans are not going to tolerate much more of this. They have to go into the 2018 elections and suffer the consequences of Trump`s conduct and their own failure to rein it in. And there`s only so much they`re going to put up with.

And President Trump himself could end up being prosecuted and going to jail. I mean, this is serious. When you fire a Special Counsel in order to impede an investigation, he`s already fired James Comey, he has the power to hire and fire just like the mayor of a town may have the power to hire and fire the chief of police but if the chief of police stops the mayor for speeding, and the mayor says you`re fired, the city council is going to be meeting by the end of the week and thinking about what to do with the mayor and that`s the difference. It`s the difference between the power to do something and the legal right, in this country. He can`t do that. And that point is going to be made very clear to him one way or the other.

HAYES: Nancy, I`ve seen a lot of --

GERTNER: Chris --

HAYES: Go ahead, please.

GERTNER: Well, I was saying that you know, when you talk about what`s going be in court and what`s not going to be in court, the people around Trump, the circle around Trump who may be aiding his obstruction of justice, those people, of course, are vulnerable to criminal charges. And so that may well have been you know, going through McGahn`s mind when he was deciding he didn`t want to be complicity in this. Those are the people that are vulnerable.

HAYES: Yes, and that was something that happened in Watergate, of course, is that people were charged around the President prior to the President being brought up. What do you think about the idea of the facts we have adding up to a plausible claim of obstruction on the face?

GERTNER: You know, I step back from this and I think about what I would do if I were the judge in the case. And so, one measure of obstruction of justice, is there -- is there a pattern of conduct here. Well, there`s a pattern of conduct with respect to Comey, now close to Mueller. There`s a pattern of interference with the investigation, what he said to Comey, what he said to Coats, the National Security Adviser, what he says to Sessions is a pattern of conduct. There`s inconsistent versions of what`s going on, inconsistent accounts. Well, that also connotes somebody who`s trying to do something that he shouldn`t do.

So there`s a pattern of conduct. But you know, it`s interesting, Mueller is quite right not wanting -- he wants to get to the bottom of this and not bringing charges until all the ducks are in a row. It is an enormous thing to make this accusation against a President and I think he wants to do it, he wants there to be if there`s anything with respect to the Russian investigation, he wants those charges. If there`s anything with respect to money laundering, he wants that. And the best play here, the best charge here would be to put obstruction of justice alongside other accusations.

HAYES: Well, that is something a lot of people are talking about. What would happen if that was done in the absence of findings of criminal infraction on the underlying questions? My question to you, Richard, is, the defenders of the President will say something like the following, the President is frustrated and angry at what he views as fundamentally an unjust inquiry and so, therefore, he is "fighting back," in his words. What do you say to that.

PAINTER: Well, this President is unable to be control his frustration and anger and that`s a psychological problem. It`s a very dangerous one when he`s in control of nuclear weapons because there is a lot to be frustrated about in the Presidency. Whether it`s this investigation or crisis around the world, or political opponents criticizing you, and yes, we have a free press in the United States of America, and the free press is not always going to be complementary of the President of the United States. So his frustration and his anger is leading him to do irrational things here to tread certainly on very close to the edge of thought over the edge with respect to criminal obstruction of justice. We`ve seen his tweets. This is not a good situation, not the behavior of a stable man.

HAYES: Richard Painter and Nancy Gertner, I thank you both. Up next, watch in real time the lengths Trump T.V. went through to try to spin the report that the President ordered the firing of Robert Mueller reporting they themselves confirmed. Can the network save the President in two minutes.


HAYES: It has been a remarkable 24 hours over at Trump T.V. Last night, New York Times broke the news that in June, President Trump ordered his White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller but then backed down after McGahn refused and threatened to quit. Because the story broke shortly before his show, the President`s chief propagandist had to scramble to figure out how to cover it which led to a hilarious reversal in less than an hour. First Sean Hannity dismissed the story but then after finding out his network had itself confirmed parts of it, Hannity changed course saying, OK, the story may be true, but so what. It doesn`t matter, we`ll deal with it later before abruptly throwing to a car crash from the day before.


HANNITY: At this hour, The New York Times is trying to distract you. They have a story that Trump wanted Mueller fired sometime last June and our sources and I`ve checked in with many of them, they`re not confirming that tonight, and the President`s attorney dismisses the story and says, no, no comment. We`re not going there. And how many times has The New York Times and others gotten it wrong?

All we have sources tonight just confirming to Ed Henry that yes, maybe Donald Trump wanted to fire the Special Counsel for conflict. Does he not have the right to raise those questions? You know, we`ll deal with this tomorrow night. We have a shocking video today to bring you by the way. This footage comes to us from Arizona.


HAYES: So that was last night. Then this morning, the host of the President`s other favorite cable news show pointed to the President calling the story fake news and then told their viewers they shouldn`t care about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a big story that apparently the President of the United States last June wanted to fire Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President says it`s fake news that happened last June. You know, it`s something we have to tell you about because it is a headline in the New York Times. What do you think about that? Do you even care? Something you probably do care about is immigration. He said, she said --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says it`s fake news, so let`s move on to talk about something that you all care about, that`s the wall and that`s keeping America safe.


HAYES: Let`s get back to that wall. A couple hours after that, Trump T.V. went ahead and proceeded to walk back it`s own reporting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m told that the President never told McGahn to fire Mueller and McGahn never threatened to quit over it so I mean, there`s you know, obviously some competing stories here.


HAYES: Joining me now former Breitbart News Spokesman and newly minted Democrat Kurt Bardella who`s undergone quite the political revolution. What do you make of that have when you watch that?

KURT BARDERLA, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, BREITBART NEWS: You know, first of all, (INAUDIBLE) for Ed Henry who was in the position where he actually confirmed it on the air that he heard these stories were true, he reported it essentially. He`s at his own network and other reporters completely undermining him. That`s how far literally the right-hand doesn`t know what the far right-hand is doing over there.

HAYES: Well, or they`re just getting overwritten by the political imperative which is what it looks like at least from the outside though. Obviously, I don`t have any special knowledge.

BARDELLA: I mean, there used to be some sort of resemblance of the line between the news journalism side and the chronicle commentary side, but it`s very clear who`s --

HAYES: I think that was always a little -- I think that was always a little quite permeable.

BARDELLA: But think how far they`ve gone. They`ve gone from the fair and balanced moniker to now so far to the right. They make Breitbart look sane. This is how far that they`ve gone. It used to be -- the Breitbart crowd was a conspiracy theory crowd. That they were the crowd that would run anything, didn`t care about any validity to journalism, any standards, and now Fox News has completely replaced that. The reason why there`s no void with Steve Bannon going down, it`s because Fox News took that over a long time ago.

HAYES: But there`s also -- there`s also this thing that happens where there -- it`s been sort of fascinating to watch them deal with all this. There is an entire kind of universe that is being created over there and not just there in Breitbart and other parts of the sort of allied media that has this kind of impermeability to the outside world. And I`m wondering as someone who used to operate in that universe how that -- how does that operate on people who actually work in Republican politics?

BARDELLA: Well, I think one of the big things that`s changed is again before, there was at least some semblance of some part of the fact being told on Fox News. There was legitimate discussion about whether it`s public policy, whether it`s immigration, whether it`s issues that Republicans by and large care about, talk about, think about all day. Now, it`s so far removed from --Republicans do tell me they don`t watch Fox News anymore because they actually want to know what`s going on and they can`t watch that to be informed otherwise they`re going to end up going on national T.V. repeating something that Fox News reported and sounding like idiots.

HAYES: Which something similar like appeared to happen to Ron Johnson with the notorious secret society text which he had to sort of walk back. I want to show you a little bit more of the way in which Fox has approached Mueller, to begin with. Because part of what`s strange about watching them deny it is they themselves have been calling for him to fire Mueller all along. Take a look what Hannity had to say back in June.


HANNITY: Mueller needs -- I`m sorry, he needs to be removed.

According to Gregg, Comey and Mueller`s relationship may violate in fact two federal laws. This is beyond now ridiculous and another reason why this special Counsel, Mueller needs to be shut down immediately.

GREGG JARRETT, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The acting Attorney General who appointed Mueller should fire him because he has a glaring conflict of interest.

HANNITY: Special Counsel Mueller`s investigation mission creep I`ve been telling you about. Well, it`s now turned into an out-of-control what is a political witch hunt. It needs to be stopped. He should recuse himself. He`s incapable of carrying out a fair and impartial investigation.


HAYES: You have to wonder the degree to which the President himself got the idea or thought about doing it from watching that.

BARDELLA: But we see timing. Again, you can measure the President`s tweets with what`s on Fox News program. And there`s a complete relationship and a direct symbiosis there. I mean, I think the crazy thing here is Sean said this should happen, that actually happens. Trump gave the order. He said this should happen. And then he goes on T.V. to say, well, what does it matter. It`s was like, it was your idea in the first place. You`re the one saying it should happen.

HAYES: Well, what I find really interesting here is I`m surprised that the tactic they`ve gone with is to deny it happening when they could say well, he had every right to or he thought about doing it and didn`t do it. But instead they seem to be sort of fighting the facts and it`s gotten, very model.

BARDELLA: I mean, I`m shocked that the thing that Sean didn`t do yesterday was say, hey, I said this last June. I`m glad he took my advice. Thanks for watching.

HAYES: Well, wait 24 hours and maybe coming up on that version in the news cycle. Kurt Bardella, thanks for being with me.

BARDELLA: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, the finance chief for the Republican Party, one of the President Trump`s billionaire benefactors faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct according to the Wall Street Journal. The details coming up.


HAYES: And another Member of Congress announces retirement today due to accusations of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct. In this case, it is Congressman Patrick Meehan, Republican of Pennsylvania following The New York Times report that he settled a sexual harassment complaint of a former aide last year using his congressional office fund. Meehan who led a House Ethics Committee panel on sexual harassment denied harassing the aide describing her as a soul mate. He is now the eighth member of Congress to either resign or announce they will not run for re-election in the wake of accusations of inappropriate conduct.

Another #MeToo story today, The New York Times reporting that in 2008, Hillary Clinton retained her presidential campaign spiritual adviser after he was accused of sexual harassment. Quoting the times, Mrs. Clinton`s campaign manager at the time recommended she fire the adviser Burns Strider but Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and order odd undergo counseling and the young woman was moved to a new job. And then there is more on this front today because arguably, the most powerful Republican Party donor in the country, Steve Wynn, is being accused of sexual misconduct over several decades in a story that has 150 sources according to The Wall Street Journal. Steve Wynn, the casino magnate and current Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee had this to say about candidate Donald Trump weeks before the election.


STEVE WYNN, FINANCE CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It seems to me that on the subject of the Presidential sexual contact behavior that being oversexed seems to be a qualification for a president the past two generations. This discussion of the sex lives of our politicians is a distraction.


HAYES: That`s next.



TRUMP: And another great friend of mine, somebody respected by everybody, a great friend of Phil, too, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Wynn. Stand up, Steve. Stand up.

Steve is always calling. He`s always got advice, right, Steve? Donald, I think you ought to do this and that. His advice I like to listen to, I`ll be honest with you.


HAYES: Steve Wynn is a billionaire casino mogul as well as the current finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He`s the vice chair of President Trump`s inaugural committee and co-host of the president`s big Mar-a-Lago inauguration anniversary party and fundraiser. And now he stands accused of sexual misconduct in a comprehensive report by The Wall Street Journal, which contacted more than 150 current and former employees, quote, "dozens of people The Wall Street Journal interviewed who have worked at Mr. Wynn`s casinos told of behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decades long pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn.

Some described him pressuring employees to perform sex acts. In one case, according to the journal, Steve Wynn paid out a $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist who accused him of forcing her to have sex back in 2005."

Wynn has denied the accusations in a statement reading in part "the idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous." And The Washington Post reports that Wynn has no immediate plans to relinquish his roll as finance chairman, a reminder that the Republican uproar over contributions to Democrats by Harvey Weinstein included this admonition from RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, quote, "if the DNC truly stands up for women like they say they do, then returning Weinstein`s diirty money should be a no-brainer."

McDaniel was one the co-hosts of the Mar-a-Lago bash with Steve Wynn last weekend.

The RNC has not yet responded to All In`s response for comment.

Jon Ralston is the editor of the Nevada Independent. Did you see this coming, Jon?

JON RALSTON, NEVADA INDEPENDENT: I wouldn`t say that I saw it coming, Chris, but there have been rumors about the casino industry for a long, long time. And I think The Wall Street Journal, I heard weeks ago they were looking into sexual harassment in the casino industry. One of my columnists John L. Smith has written about Steve Wynn. He wrote a book about him. There were some allegations in there. There`s a lawsuit that The Wall Street Journal mentioned with Dennis Gomes a former employee when he said I`m not going to be his pimp or words to that effect. Those rumors have been around.

But, as you mentioned, Chris, this is an incredibly well reported, well researched story, 150 people, the $7.5 million that you mentioned really stands out. So they obviously took their time with this.

HAYES: Talk about his relationship with Donald Trump, because Trump doesn`t have a ton of folks that -- he`s got a huge social circle, lots of acquaintances, but in the world of Donald Trump, he and Wynn were relatively close.

RALSTON: Well, you know, it`s interesting, Chris, because way back 20, 30 years ago, they hated each other. They were competitors in Atlantic City. There were lawsuits. They just did not like each other.

I remember one of the first columns I ever wrote as a journalist started with Steve Wynn is becoming the Donald Trump of the west. And it was not meant as a compliment and he didn`t take it that way. But then they had a rapprochement of sorts over the years. They became friendly.

I talked to Steve Wynn when the Donald Trump for president rumors were kind of just starting. He seemed to not believe it was not for real, but then when it was, he certainly took advantage of it because unlike Donald Trump, Steve Wynn is truly a brilliant guy and I`m sure he did have a lot of advice for Trump and embraced the whole thing because who obviously wouldn`t. You have access to the president of the United States. Same reason that Sheldon Adelson, who is another billionaire who obviously lives not far from here, Chris, embraced Donald Trump.

HAYES: He has had a political trajectory, Wynn. He, in the past, sort of divided his donations. He gave to Democrats. He gave to Republicans. Post-Obama, he became a very kind of Republican conservative figure. He`s given money to Marco Rubio and to Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Jeff Flake, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Tim Scott, Lisa Murkowski. He`s donated more than $2 million to Republican campaigns, party organs and interest groups since 2001, including $1.3 million to RNC bundled for Senator John McCain`s presidential campaign, as well.

He is a big deal in the donor world of Republican politics.

RALSTON: He`s become bigger and bigger. A switch flipped with Steve Wynn shortly after Obama was elected, Chris. And I remember several conversations with him in which had he became increasingly vitriolic about the president who I believe actually I think he voted for him. I think his wife at the time, Elaine, went and talked him into voting for Obama.

But he had buyer`s remorse almost immediately, said he was creating the worst business climate in the history of the world and thought the Affordable Care Act was the worst bill ever passed, but it`s gotten increasingly more and more intense. And he`s become more and more Republican.

Sheldon Adelson who I mentioned earlier has always been a major Republican donor. He and Steve Wynn also did not like each other, but bonded over Obama. And I think Sheldon Adelson helped get Steve Wynn into the major Republican donor column.

But if I may, Chris, the point that you made about him being a Republican National Committee`s finance chair, now, and all those pictures with Donald Trump and the things he said about Donald Trump, it`s not like the Republican National Committee like Wynn Resorts as a board of directors where they can vote Steve Wynn out of that job. Only one person can tell Steve Wynn not to be the Republican finance chair anymore. It`s not the chairwoman of the RNC, it`s the guy at 1600 Pennsylvania.

HAYES: Yeah, and we still radio silence from the RNC so far. That`s the stock price pursuant to that amazing story in The Wall Street Journal, which really paints a picture of a pretty awful pattern and some truly, truly vile acts there. You should read that story. Obviously, Wynn has issued his own denial. Jon Ralston, thank you very much.

Still to come, a Republican co-sponsor of a bill to protect Robert Mueller from DoTald trump is now changing his tune. That story ahead.

Plus, the president has the best memory, primarily when it comes to telling you he has the best memory. Tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, Donald Trump is suffering from memory loss, and I don`t mean that time at Mar-a-Lago when Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends as Michael Wolff reported No, I`m talking about how Trump specifically can`t remember key details related to the investigation into Russian collusion and obstruction of justice.

For instance, does Trump remember what happened to the March 2016 meeting where campaign adviser George Papadopoulos says he offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Rusian President Vladimir Putin?


TRUMP: I don`t remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. It took place a long time. Don`t remember much about it.


HAYES: How about the February 2017 meeting when the president allegedly asked FBI James Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you actually have a one-on-one with Comey then.

TRUMP: Not much, not even that I remember. He was sitting, and I don`t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff.


HAYES: And after firing Comey, did Trump pressure then acting FBI director Andrew McCabe to tell him who he voted for in the election?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask McCabe who he voted for? Did you ask him that?

TRUMP: I don`t think so, no. No, I don`t think I did. I don`t know what`s the big deal with that because I would ask you, who -- who did you vote for? I don`t think it`s a big deal.

But I don`t remember that -- I saw that this morning. I don`t remember asking him that question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible you did?

TRUMP: I don`t remember asking him the question. I think it`s also a very unimportant question, but I don`t remember asking him that question.


HAYES: It was fine if I did it, but I don`t remember doing it. He doesn`t remember.

This is nothing new. Trump`s selective amnesia when he gets into legal trouble is Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: It`s one of Donald Trump`s favorite boasts.


TRUMP: I don`t have teleprompters here, folks. I don`t need teleprompters. It`s called up here and it`s called memory and it`s called other things.

I have a good memory and all that stuff, like a great memory.

I have a really good memory. I have a good memory.

I have a good memory, like a great memory. I have a great memory.

I`m blessed with a great memory.

One of the great memories of all time.


HAYES: But a funny thing happens whenever Trump gets in front of a lawyer, as he might have to do with Mueller and his team. His great memory suddenly fails. For example, there were 35 times he said he didn`t remember during a deposition in the Trump University lawsuit in December 2015. And the 24 times he said in a separate Trump University lawsuit deposition in 2012, not to mention the time he couldn`t remember exactly how he had boasted about his excellent memory, quoting from his December 25, 2015 deposition transcript.

"Lawyer: do you believe you have one of the best memories in the world? Trump: that I can`t tell you. I can`t tell for other people But I have a good memory. Lawyer: you stated, though, that you have one of the best memories in the world. Trump, I don`t know. Did I use that expression?"


KATY TUR, NBC NEWS: I got a phone call directly from Mr. Trump himself. I can tell you that`s never happened before. He says that he has, and I quote, "the world`s best memory and that everybody knows that."

TRUMP: One of the great memories of all time.

And I have a very good memory.

I have a great memory.

It`s called like up here and it`s called memory and it`s called other things.



HAYES: Today, we learned the U.S. economy grew in its first year under Donald Trump just maybe not as much as the president might have you believe. The economy actually added fewer jobs last year than any year since 2010. This chart showing GDP growth since 2009 makes it clear the economy has been steadily growing for years. In fact, if you zoom in there, it`s tough to pinpoint just where exactly the Trump economics kicked in.

There`s nothing unusual about presidents taking credit for a growing economy regardless of the president`s real impact. It`s what they all do. Somewhat stranger is how corporations are playing along, like for instance, the CEO of the German conglomerate Siemens yesterday in Davos.


TRUMP: Has Siemens doing good?

JOE KAESER, CEO, SIEMENS: We`re doing really well, excellent as a matter of fact. We`re investing quite a lot into the country, and seem to have been successful with the tax reform. We decided to develop the next generation (inaudible) in the United States.

TRUMP: Oh, that`s a big thing. That`s very big.

KAESER: It is.

TRUMP: Where will that be developed?


HAYES: Siemens CEO there said, and I`m quoting him again here, since have you been successful with tax reform, we decided to develop next generation gas turbines in the United States.

This got us curious here at All In, so we reached out to Siemens to ask about the turbine project. The company emailed a press release dated back in August.

August of course, would be before any Republican tax plan existed announcing the turbine project, the same project the CEO now appears to credit to the passage of tax reform.

In that meeting, the CEO also neglected to mention the layoffs in Iowa as per USA Today.

But Siemens is hardly alone in bathing Trump in the glory he seeks. The CEO of Walmart tied her recent round of wage hikes to the tax plan, but the company had already raised wages recently twice. In fact, once in 2015 when President Obama was president and then in 2016 when President Obama was president.

As some economists at the Council on Foreign Relations put it, those raises aren`t tied to politics but to the broader economy adding but that makes for crummy PR. Much better to share credit for rising wages with lawmakers who cut your taxes. It gives them motivation to keep the goodies coming.

Now, Kimberly Clark, which makes Kleenex and Huggies, announced a very different plan. On a recent conference call, the company admitted that their windfall from the corporate tax cut will be used to fund their company`s plan to lay off around 5,000 people. Yes, you heard that right. Credit where it`s due at least they were honest.


HAYES: When there was talk last year Donald Trump was thinking about firing special counsel Robert Mueller, some pretty powerful Republicans were quite publicly dead set against it.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: What would that mean if the president fired the special counsel?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: I think that would be a mistake myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a suggestion made yesterday that the White House would just dismiss Bob Mueller, the newly appointed special counsel to look into all of this. What would your advice be if that suggestion came up?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.


HAYES: Now, to protect against that very possibility, Senator Lindsey Graham co-sponsored a bipartisan bill with Senator Cory Booker that would mandate that any special counsel to establish to investigate either the president of his staff, can`t be fired unless you have judicial review of the firing.

Republican Thom Tillis and Democrat Chris Coons there was a Senate bill looking to detour Trump from firing Mueller.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There seems to be some belief, and this certainly is backed up by what Senator Coons said, concern about this president and his reaction, very negative reaction, to Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation.

SEN. THOM TILLIS, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I think that`s right. That`s why we put the effective date back to the date of the current hire special counsel.


HAYES: Here is the thing, now that we learned that Trump did actually try to fire Mueller, ion fact, he ordered the firing of Mueller and wasn`t able to do it, Tillis is backing off. The Daily Beast reports today that Tillis is no longer working to advance his own legislation. Conceding the bill doesn`t have support to get through congress, and according to a spokesperson, continues to trust the president isn`t planning to fire Mueller.

With me now is Congressman Ted Lieu, Democrat from California, who we have here in New York City, which is nice; and Betsy Woodruff, reporter for The Daily Beast who wrote that piece on Tillis.

And Betsy, let me start with you, what is the rationale of Tillis` office that they no longer seem to back their own legislation?

BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: They gave me two reasons as to why they aren`t actively trying to move this legislation forward. And to be clear, Tillis` office statement says they support the idea of ultimately making this legislation law, however they don`t think it`s urgent and they aren`t currently engaged in efforts to move the ball forward.

The two reasons they gave me for that are, first, they say that they trust that President Trump isn`t going to fire Mueller. And second, and this is really important, Tillis` spokesperson said he didn`t think there was currently enough support in congress to get legislation like this passed. I`ll leave it to viewers, which they think is more likely, whether Trump would fire Muelleror this bill would get through congress. But that`s the explanation that team Tillis is giving for why they essentially their put efforts to move this forward on ice.

HAYES: Congressman, Senator Tillis was interesting,because he`s -- Senator Graham is someone, I think, who has a reputation of someone sort of working on bipartisan legislation very sort of showily sometimes, whereas Tillis is more of a sort of party line person. That`s in the senate.

So, in the House, you have some legislation I think to protect Mueller, am I right?

REP. TED LIEU, (D) CALIFORNIA: Yes. I`m a co-author of legislation that would transfer the authority to remove the special counsel to a panel of three judges. So far it`s only Democrats supporting it. We don`t have any courageous Republicans in the House.

HAYES: Are there any Republicans signed on to any legislation to protect Mueller in the House?

LIEU: No. But I do think it`s important.

HAYES: Zero.

LIEU: Zero.

But I think what is more important than the legislation is public opinion. And I think President Lincoln had it right when he said public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. And public opinion is overwhelmingly in favor of letting Robert Mueller complete his investigation and if Trump got him removed, people would take to the streets.

HAYES: Is your understanding that the reason that McGahn sort of threw himself in front of this, at least according to the reporting, has to do with that? Like, do you think ultimately that`s the check that has bound it so far?

LIEU: I think McGahn saw what happened in Watergate and he wasn`t going to be part of that.

Keep in mind, John Dean went to prison, because he was involved in the cover-up, the obstruction of justice. McGahn didn`t want to be a part of that. He certainly puts himself at legal jeopardy.

And keep in mind, not only did McGahn have resigned, deputy Attorney General Rosenstein would have had to resign as well, because he wasn`t going to fire Mueller. Then they would have to put in Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, who is an upstanding person. She would not have fired Mueller.

So, Trump would have had to get a lot of people fired.

HAYES: You think it actually would have gone through the entire thing?

LIEU: Absolutely. Like the Saturday Night Massacre 2.0 squared.

HAYES: You know, Betsy, one thing that jumped out from the McGahn story here in terms of ways of sort of binding this situation is McGahn threat to quit. And it seems like that`s something that people have used quite effectively with the president.

Don McGahn threatening to quit, Christopher Wray apparently threatening to quit. Do you think that is something that is a tool, or a toolkit for those who are seeking to stop the president from doing something like firing Mueller?

WOODRUFF: It`s a good question. And to be clear, Senior level officials in the federal government basically always have some sort of resignation letter on hand in case they reach a situation that is so fraught and so frustrating that they feel they need to break out that threat.

So it`s certainly not unique to this administration. This is something we see folks in the executive branch always sort of keeping on hand as a way to push back against presidents that they believe are over-stepping their bounds.

That said, of course, the number of public reports indicating that senior level officials has sort of used this tactic to try to push back against the president is clearly significant.

Another thing that I think is important to bear in mind when we talk about pushback against the president is one figure who has flown a bit under the radar, and that is Ty Cobb. In terms of the timeline, when Trump reportedly threatened to fire Mueller, that came in June. Shortly after that, Ty Cobb stepped on. And in the time that he has been the president top in-house lawyer, we`ve seen almost a complete 180 as far as how the White House talks about the Mueller probe. I think that`s very much due to him. He`s been an under the radar figure whose actually quietly, I believe, shown a lot of influence.

HAYES: Do you think, do you trust, though, that that lawyer can restrain his client as a president of the United States?

WOODRUFF: I think the larger --

LIEU: I don`t.

And you bring up an important point, why are so many people threatening to resign? Because there`s a pattern of obstruction of justice. Donald Trump tried to get Michael Flynn`s investigation dropped. He then fired the FBI director. He then tried to fire the deputy FBI director. And then he tried to get his own attorney general to resign. And now we know he tried to get Robert Mueller fired.

This is a pattern and even a mediocre prosecutor would be able to prosecute this case.

HAYES: Do you have a sense this is coming to a head soon? Do you have any sense in congress that that`s the case?

LIEU: I have a sense that the special counsel`s investigation will come to a head when they interview President Trump. Trump lied over 2,000 times, according to The Washington Post last year and then he`s going to go into an interview with FBi agents, where if you lie once it`s perjury.

HAYES: All right, Betsy Woodruff and Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you both for joining us. That is All In for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.



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