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Speaker Paul Ryan calls for "cleanse" of the FBI Transcipt 1/31/18 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Chris Murphy, Natasha Bertrand, Frank Figliuzzi, Barbara Boxer, Harry Litman

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 31, 2018 Guest: Chris Murphy, Natasha Bertrand, Frank Figliuzzi, Barbara Boxer, Harry Litman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- stooges to save you. 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: We could use some more loyalty, I will tell that.

HAYES: Another day, another loyalty test.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: An oath to the President of the United States rather than the constitution would be inappropriate.

HAYES: Tonight, reports that the President asked the man in charge of the Mueller probe for his loyalty. Plus --

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The President needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there.

HAYES: The FBI`s extraordinary plea to stop the President from releasing the Nunes memo.

TRUMP: Oh, yes, don`t worry. It`s 100 percent.

HAYES: Congressman Luis Gutierrez responds to the State of the Union. And the incredible reason that the Head of the CDC just resigned when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We now know the President of the United States asked three different people who have supervised the Russia investigation whose side they were on. New report tonight that early last month the President asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if he was "on my team." That`s after he reportedly asked then Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 election and after he told previous FBI Director James Comey the one that he fired "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty," according to Comey`s sworn testimony. It appears to be yet another attempt by this President to interfere in the Justice Department`s investigation into whether he or his campaign conspired with a foreign adversary in the criminal sabotage of his opponent`s campaign. Over in Congress, a separate branch of government which the framers intended to place a check on presidential power, there`s no question about who`s on the president`s team.

In fact, the undisputed team captain is House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes who served on the President`s transition team, also subject of the Mueller investigation, the transition team that is and who has already put his name on the line to protect Trump. Last spring, he tried to unsuccessfully to launder information from the White House back to the White House to back up the President`s bogus wiretapping claim. Now, Nunes has written a secret four-page memo alleging that investigators improperly obtained warrants surveil members of the Trump campaign. And get this because I just realize this today. Despite the fact that Nunes has not actually seen the classified material underlying those warrants, the stuff the warrants are based on, he hasn`t seen that he wrote the memo, his staff did, he hasn`t seen it. Despite that, the President`s allies have run with it.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Members of Congress that have seen this memo, they have called it shocking, alarming and said it literally mirrors KGB style tactics. Now, members are also saying it could cause many people to go to jail and it could lead to the end of the Mueller investigation.


HAYES: Ah huh. That last line could lead to the end of the Mueller investigation. That presumably is, of course, the whole point. In a letter to Nunes this week, the Assistant Attorney General, a man who works for and is close to Jeff Sessions warned that releasing that memo without full review would be, and I quote here, extraordinarily reckless. And after seeing the memo over the weekend, FBI Director Christopher Wray, a man who Donald Trump appointed just a few months ago, went to the White House on Monday along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appeal to the President`s Chief of Staff John Kelly directly not to make the memo public. But later that day, House Intelligence Republicans led by Nunes went ahead and voted to release the memo anyway. This morning Kelly said the public should expect to see it soon.

JOHN KELLY, CHIEF OF STAFF, WHITE HOUSE: The memo came over. We`ve got our folks in the -- in the -- our national security lawyers in the White House that work for me, work for the President, they`re slicing and dicing it, looking at it so that we know what it means and what it understands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see it.

KELLY: I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you think?

KELLY: It will be released here pretty quick I think and then the whole world can see it.


HAYES: Last night after his State of the Union speech, the presIdent was caught on a hot mic reassuring a Republican Congressman he`d approve the memo`s release.

REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let`s release the memo.

TRUMP: Oh yes, don`t worry. 100%. Can you imagine?

DUNCAN: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: He`d be too angry.


HAYES: Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI has taken the extraordinary step, they really very, very rarely do this if ever, I can`t recall a recent example of releasing a public statement that accuses the Nunes memo in effect of cherry picking information to paint a false picture. "As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally will impact the memo`s accuracy." Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut. And Senator, in a sort of broad rule of law sense, what do you think you`re watching happen here?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, this feels like a really dangerous day, news of the President once again asking for loyalty from a law enforcement officer whose loyalty is only supposed to be to the country he serves and the rule of law. And then more news that the White House seems intent on hot lining this memo to the public despite the FBI`s grave reservations. And the FBI has reservations for very good reasons. One, they very clearly think there`s wrong information in this memo.

But two, they have suggested that there are what we call sources and methods that will be disclosed in this memo. That`s a way of saying that the means by which the FBI gets information about bad guys will be made known to those bad guys and thus, it will be harder for the FBI to get the information in the future. So this is not just about a political agenda that Chairman Nunes seems to be putting forward. It also seems to be about potential real compromises to national security and that`s why to me this is you know, amongst one of the most dangerous days of this presidency so far.

HAYES: Are you surprised to see the Republican Party en masse particularly in the House, I think a little bit less in the Senate, certainly less on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but the Republican Party in the House essentially kind of march to the tune that the FBI is a threat to America, that it is essentially a redoubt of traitorous liberals I guess who wanted to elect Hillary Clinton president. It`s a theory that seems a little tough to swallow and yet seems to be one now driving the train in Washington.

MURPHY: Yes, this is you know, the party that tried to stake its reputation for years and years on being that of law and order and the FBI of course, is the standard of law and order. So attacking the FBI betrays the traditions of the Republican Party and you know, of course, is a real threat to democracy if people lose faith in the highest levels of law enforcement. You know, listen, if these guys think they`re going to stop Mueller from getting to the truth, I just don`t think that that`s how this is going to play out. As Lindsey Graham said from the Senate`s perspective, Mueller getting fired might be the end of the Trump presidency. And so they are all going to go down with the ship if they are seen as trying to protect against the truth coming out in this investigation if the truth is in the end damning.

HAYES: Do your constituents care about the story?

MURPHY: My constituents care about the story but they, to be honest, Chris, are not following it with the same fervor.

HAYES: I want an honest answer.

MURPHY: Yes, they`re not following it with the same fervor that you are or other folks covering the White House day to day are. Folks are really concerned about it, but I`ll be honest, you know, first and foremost, they`re talking about bread and butter issues that never go away like taxes and wages and pensions and health care. So yes, sometimes I worry that while this is certainly a threat to democracy if they are trying to stop the Mueller investigation, it is not the defining issue for you know, my constituents back home. They care about it, but they also want their members of Congress to focusing on the stuff that directly affects their daily pocketbook lives.

HAYES: All right, Senator Chris Murphy, I always appreciate you taking time. Thank you.

MURPHY: Thanks.

HAYES: Natasha Bertrand covers National Security and Intelligence Community for the Atlantic, Frank Figliuzzi, is a former Assistant Director of the FBI where he served under then Director Robert Mueller. And Frank, I want to read a little bit from the Nunes response to the FBI. So the FBI, the Trump FBI, Christopher Wray, Trump guy saying material omissions, we basically think this is a misleading document, also we don`t want you to release it. Here`s Nunes. "Having stonewalled Congress` demands for information for nearly a year, it`s no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies. The FBI`s intimately familiar with material omissions with respect to their presentations to both Congress and the courts." What do you make of that?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI: I think Congressman Nunes is displaying what we call willful blindness. You reported earlier that he`s not even seeing the underlying sensitive intelligence that he claims is in support of his own memo. You heard the FBI say they have grave concerns about the release of that. There`s significance in the intelligence community in the word grave, and here`s the significance. It may be a subconscious use of the word or it may be deliberate. But when you hear someone in the intelligence community use the word grave, they`re referring to the definition of top secret. That intelligence which can do serious and grave damage or actually the language is exceptionally grave damage to the security of the United States. It`s also the word that`s used when you do a damage assessment of a leak. Did grave damage occur?

Now we see the FBI saying they have grave concerns. It`s a hint that there may actually be top secret information underlying this memo that Nunes doesn`t even know about. But I`m here to tell you if indeed it`s T.S., top secret, that means there`s sources, methods, techniques involved. It actually means there could be human lives involved, human sources, maybe Russian human sources that have been flipped, recruited, maybe a sensitive wiretap placed somewhere inside Moscow and only when the Russians read this memo will they know that this human who is singular in nature or this wiretap that`s only one place is in place. That`s what Nunes is ignoring right now.

HAYES: There`s an amazing exchange in which Nunes was asked straight up, did you work with the White House on this? He did not answer. We then got transcripts today of the meeting of the committee when they had these votes. And I want to read you this exchange and get your response. So Mike Quigley from Illinois who`s on that committee said, "when you as a majority conceived of doing this memo for release to the body and to public, the preparation, the thought doing it, the consultation of it, was any of this done after/during conversations or consultations with anyone in the White House?" Nunes, "I would just answer as far as I know, no." Quigley, "Mr. Chairman, does that mean none of the staff members that work for the majority had any consultation or communication at all with the WHITE House? Nunes, the Chair is not going to entertain a question by another member. What do you make of that?

NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: This whole thing started with the White House. This whole thing started when Devin Nunes made his late-night excursion to the White House last March after receiving a call from some of his -- one of his sources. He still won`t disclose who that was saying come over here and view this explosive information that we have that basically implicates the Obama administration in this is massive surveillance scandal. Obviously, I`m paraphrasing it but that was the gist of it. And then Devin Nunes came out and he briefed the press about these documents that he had supposedly been shown.

And what was interesting about the whole thing is that people were saying, well, if you got these documents from the White House, then why did you have to brief the President on documents that you got from the White House? Why didn`t he have access to these documents himself? And so the whole thing was kind of contrived from the very beginning. And to say now that the result, the memo which is the result of this kind of over nearly yearlong investigation into the DOJ, FBI whether they abused the FISA process had nothing to do with the White House. It`s just not true because, again, it started there.

HAYES: There are, Frank, you know, there are -- obviously Congress has oversight of the executive and the power to surveil is an extremely dangerous power in the wrong hands. And it`s incredibly important that that be deployed constitutionally and with oversight. Have you ever seen though a situation in which you have essentially the Congress and the President kind of teamed up against the FBI in the middle which is what we appear to have here?

FIGLIUZZI: I`ve not in 25 years as an FBI agent and in leading the counterintelligence program, I`ve into the seen this level of intervention, interruption, and disarray quite possibly. And I`ve got to tell you, the only winner so far in this picture is the Russian intelligence service. The Russian Intelligence Service has one goal, and it`s not to get a certain man in office that they want in the Oval Office. It`s simply to sow discord and chaos in the United States. And whoever is in charge of this program back at SVR headquarters in Moscow is getting a huge bonus this year because he`s going to put on his performance appraisal, I got the FBI pitted against the White House, Congress against account FBI, the White House against its own Department of Justice, I want my bonus and that guy probably deserves it.

HAYES: Do you think Wray can withstand this standoff? I mean, having put himself out there right now, it just seems to me that he is now out on a limb. If the President says no, screw you, we`re going to release it anyway, how can he keep doing his job?

BERTRAND: It`s really unclear and there are kind of mixed feelings even within the bureau to how Wray has responded to the President so far. We`ve seen reports he kind of stood up to pressure originally to fire McCabe and then the way that he kind of dismissed McCabe earlier this week really kind of rubbed people within the Bureau the wrong way and former intelligence officials the wrong way. So it`s really unclear how Wray is going to deal with this. The fact of the matter is that he ultimately will not be able to control whether or not Trump decides to release this memo.

Now, he can you know, perhaps work with the Democrats to you know, release their version of the memo which is more than double the length of the Nunes memo because it contains so many you know, corrections on what Nunes wrote. And he will brief them and he will issue redactions, that`s another thing about the Nunes memo is that there are no redactions so it`s extraordinarily dangerous. But other than that, the Nunes memo as far as Trump is concerned will be released.

HAYES: Important point to remember in all this, the construction of sort of the national security state post World War II, classification flows from one person and one person only. The President of the United States can declassify whatever he wants at whatever time. Natasha Bertrand and Frank Figliuzzi, thanks for joining me. Next, the President has reportedly asked the man overseeing the Mueller investigation if he was on team Trump. The latest obstruction in plain sight in two minutes.


HAYES: -- third time there`s a report the President asking someone supervising the Russian investigation, that is the investigation into whether he or his campaign committed crimes, the third time we have the President asking the person supervising that investigation whose side you`re on. First, Donald Trump told FBI Director James Comey I need loyalty. I expect loyalty according to Comey`s sworn testimony. Comey says he didn`t at first. When pressed replied, you will always get honesty from me. Then the Washington Post reported that during their first face- to-face meeting in the Oval Office last May, the President asked FBI`s Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 election. McCabe said he didn`t vote.

And now tonight, we`ve learned the President may have put pressure on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. CNN reports an exchange last month, Trump wanted to know where the Special Counsel`s Russia investigation was heading and he wanted to know whether Rosenstein was "on my team." Rosenstein reportedly responded, of course, we`re all on your team, Mr. President. This reportedly happened ahead of Rosenstein`s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee where he was asked about interactions with Trump.


HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Is it ever appropriate for the president of the United States to demand the Department of Justice official or FBI Director take a loyalty pledge?

ROSENSTEIN: I don`t have any opinion about that. Congressman, nobody has asked me to take a loyalty pledge other than the oath of office.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND: America is counting on your integrity and your commitment to protecting the independence of the Special Counsel, to reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law. And so when you said just a moment ago that you don`t have an opinion about a loyalty oath from the President being asked of people, it might be useful to remind you, sir, that members of the Department of Justice take an oath to the constitution. And so a loyalty oath to the President of the United States is inappropriate, for any President to ask for and for anyone to swear it. Do you agree?

ROSENSTEIN: Congressman, nobody has asked me for a loyalty oath.


HAYES: With me is Barbara Boxer, former Democratic Senator from California and Harry Litman, a former Federal Prosecutor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General. And Harry let me start with you because you had Rod Rosenstein`s job. So I want to get your sort of first-person sense of how appropriate or inappropriate or unusual it would be to have that asked of you in this circumstance.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Stupefying. I actually was a kid at the Department with Rod Rosenstein during the infancy of the Starr investigation. If anything like that had come from the White House, it would have sent shock waves through the building but it could never have happened. Look, compare this for one second with the big controversy when Clinton spoke with Lynch on the tarmac. That was a terrible (INAUDIBLE) for the Republican majority. This was the President of the United States, the boss of Rosenstein with approving track record of firing people who he doesn`t consider to be loyal, looking him. Oh, and the main suspect in a criminal investigation looking him in the eye and saying are you on my team. That`s like straight thuggery plain and simple.

HAYES: Do you agree, Senator Boxer?

BARBARA BOXER, FORMER DEMOCRATIC SENATOR: Without a doubt. And you know, I was for a while the Chairman and for a long time the top Democrat on the Ethics Committee. And I can tell you, if a United States Senator was under investigation by the Justice Department and they even so much as called to see how am I doing, what`s going on, they would be kicked out of the United States Senate. You know, this thing is --

HAYES: Wait a second. Really? That -- you mean, that --

BOXER: Yes, yes.

HAYES: That red line is so serious that if you know, Robert Menendez for instance, who just had the charges against him dropped, occasionally it happens members Congress are prosecuted by the Department of Justice. You`re saying in the midst of the investigation if someone calls over there and says we`re just checking in on where we are, you think that would be grounds for removal.

BOXER: Can`t do it. Can`t do it. You`re not even supposed to do it if you have a constituent. You`re not supposed to intervene directly. Could you send a message, you can send a note. The point is, we know what Trump has done. He got rid of Preet Bharara, he got rid of Sally Yates, he got rid of Comey, he got rid of McCabe, what scares me and even if I seem a little calm, I am so alarmed, is that the lackeys in Congress, those GOPers led by Ryan and Nunes are just in many ways I use a word, I don`t mean in a legal sense, colluding and collaborating with a president who is under investigation. We saw it when on the hot mic, they were already discussing the fact that he was going to "release the memo" which could put lives in jeopardy.

This is a moment -- and the last thing I`d say is thinking back to Watergate, why did we finally get to the truth? Because of a free press, check, thank god we still have it, because of the fact that we had brave Republicans. Where are they? They`re nowhere to be found. And at the end of the day, the public was on the side of truth and justice. So we are at a very dangerous place right now because we have lackeys in the Congress who don`t understand that they`re supposed to be separate from the President and they`re going after a Republican Justice Department.

HAYES: Harry, I want to present to you an argument I hear in defense of the President which isn`t really a defense but basically goes like this. He`s bumbling, he`s never worked in government before. He used to run a private company. His family wasn`t even publicly owned. He could do whatever he wanted. He doesn`t understand the traditions and the norms and independence and he`s kind of bumbling in all these circumstances. You described it as thuggery. You don`t buy that this is essentially good faith bumbling as opposed to bad faith interference?

LITMAN: Well, I don`t see how you can. Look, the Rosenstein exchange was a month ago. By then, there`s certainly enough water under the bridge for everyone to have shown including his own White House Counsel who had to back him off from firing Mueller six months before that that there are certain lines of propriety. He`s certainly been told and he goes past them like a bulldozer. So when you look someone in the eye and you say are you on my team, yes, he doesn`t know the norms, yes, he lacks the protocols but that`s sinister. There`s nothing kind of hokey or folksy about that. That`s a straight out implicit threat.

HAYES: And Senator, are you on my team in a conversation reportedly about where the Russia investigation is heading. He does seem to be acting in a way that is not a -- it`s not presenting or projecting a confident air of innocence.

BOXER: Not at all. I mean, let`s just -- I`m not a lawyer so I will not discuss it as the wife of a lawyer, the mom of a lawyer and the daughter of a lawyer. I will present it just as me to you. The bottom line is if there`s nothing to hide, why is he firing all these people? If there is nothing to hide, why does he have to ask Nunes, his lackey, to cause all this trouble and go against a Republican Justice Department? This is unheard of. This is a constitutional crisis and I know I was thinking about the massacre, the Saturday Night Massacre. This is a rolling massacre, one thing after the other after the other. And now you have the Republicans colluding in a way to really cover up what I believe will turn out to be some kind of crime. I really do believe that.

HAYES: Well, that is, of course, the question that haunts all of us, what actually happened and we still don`t know definitively the answer to that. Former Senator Barbara Boxer and Harry Litman, thanks for joining us. Coming up, another major Trump appointee resigns in what would be a front- page scandal in any other White House. That story is next.


HAYES: During the first year of the Trump administration, the higher profile resignations and embarrassments have been well documented. But then there`s a whole tier of officials and wannabes whose stories would make front page headlines in any administration but this one. People like instance Brenda Fitzgerald, the now former Head of the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, who resigned today after Politico reported -- and this is really something else -- she bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her leadership of the agency charged with reducing tobacco use. This is the top public health official in the administration buying tobacco stocks. And we`re just getting started. There`s also Kathleen Hartnett White, maybe you heard of her, maybe you haven`t. She`s Trump`s choice to direct the White House Council on Environmental Quality whose confirmation hearing was an all-time disaster.


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Do you think that if the ocean warms it expands? Does the law are thermal expansion apply to sea water.

KATHLEEN HARTNETT WHITE, TRUMP NOMINEE FOR COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: Again, I`m not -- I do not have any kind of expertise or even much Lehman`s study of the ocean dynamics and the climate change issues.


HAYES: White has suggested that climate science is a nefarious hoax too and I quote her here, decarbonize human society. She once said that coal helped end slavery. In a rare moment of sanity, the Senate declined to consider White`s nomination originally in December, but now guess what, the President has gone and renominated her. And then there`s Taylor Weyeneth, a fresh-faced 24-year-old former Trump campaign worker who was fired from a law firm for missing work but nonetheless, ascended to a top spot at the Office of National Drug Control Policy which supports efforts to curb the opioid epidemic. 116 people die every day from opioid-related overdoses since 2016, 64,000 in a year, one of the most pressing issues the country is facing.

Weyeneth is now stepping down after the Washington Post revealed misrepresentations on his resume. The list goes on. The man in charge of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Anti-Abortion Crusader Scott Lloyd reportedly discussed trying to use a controversial scientifically unproven method to reverse an undocumented teen`s abortion. Daniel Pollack who works at the agency that oversees AmeriCorps was deem too racist to ride in an Uber, I`m not making that up. He was reportedly banned and arrested for disorderly conduct after hurling racially charged insults at the a driver he thought was Muslim but not too racist to fail a White House vet. And there`s Pollack`s old boss, a guy named Carl Higbie who resigned earlier this month after CNN dug up his past racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti- gay comments. Those are just some of the people hired by the Trump administration. The best people.


TRUMP: We have to get the best people. We can no longer be so politically correct. You know, we do things today where we`re so politically correct. People are afraid to talk, they`re afraid to walk. We need to get the best and the finest and if we don`t, we`ll be in trouble for a long period of time.



TRUMP: We need to get the best and finest. And if we don`t, we`ll be in trouble for a long period of time.



HAYES: As we reported earlier tonight, House Republicans led by Devin Nunes are now poised to release a classified memo designed to discredit the Russia investigation despite the FBI`s grave concerns and a warning from DOJ that such a move would be extraordinarily reckless. And they are being abetted by the top Republican in the House, Paul Ryan, who is calling for a, quote, cleanse of the FBI.

And then there`s this, on Monday, the Trump administration declined to impose sanctions against purchasers of Russian arms, sanctions that congress passed overwhelmingly in July 517-5. Democrats blasted the administration`s decision to effectively defy congress, but despite voting for the sanctions six months ago, Republicans have been all but silent.

Joining me now MSNBC political analyst Jennifer Rubin, columnist for the Washington Post; Republican strategist and media consultant Rick Wilson.

Jennifer, since you`re here, lets me start, I think that it`s significant to look at the trajectory of this which is that Donald Trump -- the Republican Party is more unified behind Donald Trump as time has gone on than it ever has been. And six months ago, you have this vote that was seen as a sort of rebuke, right, that we`re going to have an overrideable, you know veto overridable majorities.

Now they basically say we`re not doing this right now. And there`s possible explanations for that we can get into and you hear nothing. And I think it -- my theory is that it shows how much the party has fallen in line behind him.

JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. As rick would tell you, everything Donald Trump touches dies and everyone who obviously interacts with him becomes intellectually and morally corrupt. And for reasons that still I don`t quite emotionally understand, don`t quite grasp, they think that their fate is inexorably tied up with his. It is, but not in the way they think I think.

And they have allowed themselves to be led around by the nose by the likes of not only Donald Trump, but Devin Nunes. And no one appears to stand up and say not only does the emperor have no clothes, but this is a farce. We are destroying our national security infrastructure. We are destroying congress`s relationship, its ability to exercise oversight. There is no institutional grown-up in the room. That is what is so troubling.

HAYES: It`s in some ways I think, Rick -- I mean, Jennifer was just talking about sort of standing up, or they view their fate as inextricably bound. I think I`ve come around to take people at their word. Mitch McConnell said it was the best year, this year, since he got to congress 30 years ago for conservatives. Mike Pence just said that at a retreat tonight.

I now take everyone at their word that it`s not that they`re making a calculation, it`s not -- they love Donald Trump. They think Donald Trump is good. They think Donald Trump represents them, represents conservatism, represents the Republican Party, embodies their values, executes their world view. That that`s the enthusiasm here. There`s no like who is going to stand up to him, they like him.

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, these are guys who are racing for a finish line called November 2018. And they`re going to get what they can get. They`ve recognized that the MO that they need to adopt is to praise Donald Trump if they want to get things done. And look, the tax bill was not Donald Trump`s tax bill.

HAYES: So, you -- wait, I just want to stop there. So, you think Mitch McConnell saying something like that, which of course erases eight years of George W. Bush -- you think that`s -- you think he doesn`t believe that?

WILSON: Absolutely. There`s such a deep cynicism among these guys. And if you speak to them privately, they have learn this trick of playing Donald Trump`s ego. They`ve learned this trick of stroking Donald Trump`s vast empty black hole of need to be praised and patted on his fuzzy little head and they`re doing it. And they recognize that they can get Trump to do virtually anything they want.

So look, it wasn`t Trump`s tax bill. They praised him so much at the end of it, because they wanted him to basically not crap on it as he did with the first Obamacare repeal attempt. They do all that they can to stroke this guy. And he`s like a child. He`s incredibly simple and easy to manipulate.

HAYES: And -- but this now, the sort of Nunes thing, it goes beyond the stroking his ego. These are people that are -- this is the entire, even Will Hurd -- I was really surprised by this. Will Hurd. Will Hurd is a fascinating member of congress. He was -- he`s one of the few black members of the GOP in congress. He represents the border. Exceptionally bright talented individual.


HAYES: You know, really impressive guy, impressive resume, was in the CIA. Will Hurd voted for this.

RUBIN: That`s how strong this lure of sticking with the tribe, sticking with the pack is. And it flows from the top. Paul Ryan sent out the signal. We`re going with Nunes. Everyone line up. We`re not going to kick out Nunes. We`re going to cleanse the FBI, which is probably the most horrifying phrase I`ve heard yet in this most latest iteration.

And they take their cues. Their money is going to come from their party. Their support, getting Republicans into their district to try to turn out their base. They have convinced themselves that they must go along with this really bizarre shenanigan at the risk of national security, at the risk of their own -- if they have any left intellectual integrity.

But I also do think that there is something else going on here, and that is that they have genuine fear. They have genuine fear that come November not only are they going to be wiped out here but they`re going to be wiped out in the Senate. And that this is not looking good for 2020, that this is all going down in flames.

HAYES: Well, two things. One, we should say that the Trey Gowdy stepped down today, which is very surprising -- chair of the oversight committee. And even as the generic ballot narrows, and it has quite a bit, you`re watching more and more retirements, which makes me think that Republicans have a bead on this maybe we don`t. And second of all, I should say that Reuters now reporting, Rick, just in the last few minutes that they`re going to release the memo tomorrow. What does that mean?

WILSON: What it means is that Speaker Ryan made a decision to allow Devin Nunes to cover Donald Trump`s ass and to compromise national security information by putting out something that is obviously a slurry of cherry picked BS and they`re going to glide over all the other things that caused the FISA warrants to be issued about Carter Page and others and pretend that it`s all about the dossier.

They are really desperate to feed the monster of the Fox audience right now that is so hyped up and motivated about this conspiracy theory and they`re desperate to make sure that they do everything they can to protect Donald Trump even at the cost of compromising national security and sending a terrifying signal there will be no accountability, no oversight, Donald Trump can kill a live baby on national TV and they will do nothing.

There is nothing he can doing -- I mean, we really are at an inflection point in our history right now where the institutions of government have been reposed in the hands of one person. And congress is no longer a co- equal branch of government, they are just a subsidiary of the Trump organization.

HAYES: Yeah, particularly I think if the president overrides his own FBI director, which...

RUBIN: Absolutely.

HAYES: Quickly, if he does that.

WILSON: He will. Oh, he will.

HAYES: Yeah, but can Wray stay if he does that? I feel like that statement today was Wray kind of? It seems hard to see how if you`re FBI director and you put up that statement in those terms and the president says, nope, like saws off the limb behind you, I don`t know how you stay after that.

RUBIN: It`s pretty hard. The real question is does the building, does the FBI building think that no matter what they need him, because he`s the only one standing guard at this point.

HAYES: Well, that -- Jennifer Rubin and Rick Wilson, thank you both for being with me.

Still ahead, the congressman who called President Trump explicitly racist in the wake of his State of the Union Address is here to explain why. Representative Luis Gutierrez is coming up.

Plus, the lie President Trump made up on spot in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, at the State of the Union last night, President Trump singled out a homeland security special agent in the audience.


TRUMP: Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country, Homeland Security Investigation Special Agent Celestino Martinez. He goes by DJ and CJ. He said call me either one. So we`ll call you CJ.


HAYES: Wait a second, does he really go by both DJ and CJ? Have you ever met a person in your life who obviously goes by both DJ and CJ? That doesn`t seem to make sense. In fact, it doesn`t match the prepared remarks which read, quote, "homeland investigations special agent Celestino Martinez. He goes by CJ." And on the White House page announcing their guest, there`s no mention of DJ.

We needed to get to the bottom of this mystery. So, we asked the ICE office of public affairs does agent Celestino Martinez go CJ or DJ or both. And they actually got back to us. And their answer is Thing Two in 60 seconds.



TRUMP: Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez. He goes by DJ and CJ. He said call me either one.


HAYES: You can call me CJ. You can call me DJ. So, we asked I.C.E. if Celestino Martinez really goes by both DJ and CJ and an answer of yes would confirm something really odd, and an answer of no might embarrass the president a little. This afternoon, they gave us their answer. "Probably best to use his full name as we have it listed in the news release."

Okay, thank you for that. A none answer. Well played. Here`s my theory. Of course, CJ does not gets by DJ. Where would the d come from? This was the latest example of the president doing his signature move when he makes a mistake on the teleprompter, an ad lib riff in which he employs the magical word and joining the flub and fix together and pretending he meant to say both and creating a world in which a guy can have the nicknames simultaneously both DJ and CJ.


TRUMP: He goes by DJ and CJ. He said call me either one.

Authority and an authoritarian powers.

Through their lives and though their lives were cut short.

Our hope is a word and world of proud independent nations.

And as instead given unelected regulators and regulators --

We will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.

They sacrifice every day for the furniture, the future of their children.


HAYES: Right wing websites, including Drudge Report today are claiming that congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois walked out of the State of the Union because chants of USA triggered him. The story is wrong, not that anyone wanted to check. Not least because the Illinois congressman left about three minutes before the end of Trump`s more than 80 minute speech, which is hardly walking out.

The congressman himself had a far simpler explanation, tweeting today that " I was due on TV for an interview and the speech was running late. I waited until the president stopped talking and walked to the back and watched the last 90 seconds on TV after sitting for 80 minutes, then went to my interview. Those are the facts."

While the congressman didn`t actually storm out of the speech, he did have plenty to say about it. In a statement Gutierrez said, "I was hoping to get through my life without having to witness and outwardly, explicitly racist president, but my luck ran out."

I`ll get the rest of his review when congressman Luis Gutierrez joins me next.


HAYES: Forty minutes into the president`s State of the Union address, a fact checking site PolitiFact tweeted out, "Well, our website just crashed." Among the widely inaccurate claims the president made last night was that family reunification policies that the U.S. currently has allow unlimited entry into the country.

PolitiFact themselves rated that claim mostly false noting the president ignored restrictions on which family members immigrates can ask to bring in as well as limits on number of visas every year.

For more on that, someone who is an actual immigration policy expert, democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. Your statement was striking to me. I guess my first question is what was your response to the speech?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D), ILLINOIS: My response to the speech was I wanted to talk about that one big lie that you just presented to us, right? He also said distant relatives, right? Guess what, Chris, my wife`s not a distant relative of mine, neither are my children, my parents or my sister. And those are the people that you can petition for. And they`re not unlimited, right? I have a limited number of people in my life. They`re my nuclear family. Those are the people you can petition for.

So it`s an outright bald-faced lie in order to what? To continue this sense of fear. They`re coming, They`re coming, They`re coming, they`re coming in unprecedented numbers and uncontrollably coming to this country. They`re bringing people, how are they bringing them to the United States of America? Without limit. And they`re causing crime, and they`re causing us to live in a dangerous.

And then he flips from that to say that family reunification visas, he calls them chain migration. Look, chris, we should spend five minutes one night, we can`t do it tonight, and let`s see what countries get eliminated, and you know what we`re going to find? We are going to find China, South Korea, India, the Philippines, South Korea, Mexico and El Salvador, what do all those countries have in common? Well, they have in common people of color that come to the United States of America, and that`s what he wants to stop.

So he says it`s about crime, right? But it`s really not. He said it`s about a border and building a fence and building a wall. But it`s not. It`s about stopping legal immigration so that people like me, people like my mom who came to this country can`t come here anymore.

HAYES: So you`re saying this explicitly is a racial project. You believe that the president wants to preserve, essentially the whiteness of the country and that that is what is motivating his immigration rhetoric and policy.

GUTIERREZ: There is absolutely no doubt. Look, here`s one thing. When we went into court to kind of prove that the Latinos in Chicago deserve, right, were being discriminated against in the remapping, here`s what we didn`t have to prove. We didn`t have to prove what their thinking was, right, we didn`t have to prove that they explicitly said racist things in creating the congressional -- what we had to prove was, what?

And once you showed that Latinos were being thrown here and there, and our votes were being diluted, look at the people being targeted and remember, this is a president who started with Mexicans are rapists, murders and drug dealers and we need to get rid of them. And that`s the facts.

HAYES: Okay, so then here`s my question. If that`s true, if you believe that the president is explicitly racist and that the immigration policy is guided by that racist vision, can Democrats strike any deal with this individual on immigration whatsoever? It just seems like there`s a huge disconnect between holding that belief which a lot of Democrats hold, the the idea of, yeah, maybe we can trade DACA for border wall, can you deal with someone who has those views?

GUTIERREZ: It`s going to be very difficult.

HAYES: That`s a yes! That says to me that you don`t think it`s a bright line.

GUTIERREZ: I find it very, I`m not optimistic, Chris. I spent 25 years of my life focussing on this issue. So it`s not easy for me to say that I`m not. I have to wake up in the morning, because it`s who I am. And if I can`t then I shouldn`t be. But it gets harder and harder to be optimistic because here`s what he`s saying. He`s saying Luis, if you want to strike a deal with me, you have to stop people like your mom and your dad and people like you from coming. We`re going to let the D.R.E.A.Mers stay, Luis, but we`re also going after their moms and dads.

You`ve got to change the rules to make it easier for me to deport their moms and dads and stop more people from coming. And you know what? I don`t think the D.R.E.A.Mers want to be put in a safe place at the expense of other people being harmed. That`s not who our they are. That`s not how our immigration policy has been developed.

HAYES: They`ve been explicit about that. Congressman Luis Gutierrez thanks for your time.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.

Good evening Rachel.



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