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Administration's defense of abuse. TRANSCRIPT: 2/12/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Frederica Wilson, Joaquin Castro, Caroline Fredrickson

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 12, 2018 Guest: Frederica Wilson, Joaquin Castro, Caroline Fredrickson

CHRIS MATTHEWS MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.




HAYES: The White House digs a deeper hole.

TRUMP: He said very strongly yesterday that he is innocent.

HAYES: And the Press Secretary tries saying what Donald Trump will not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why haven`t we heard the President say that he takes domestic violence very seriously?

HAYES: Tonight the President, his lawyer, and his Chief of staff Under increasing fire for how they handle domestic abuse allegations, and the growing concerns over national security gap inside the White House.

Plus as the President declines to release the Democratic response, is Devin Nunes obstructing justice in the Mueller probe?

Why the man in charge of rail safety in America just resigned in scandal.

And the return of the Obamas.


HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The White House can try to put words in his mouth all they want but the President of the United States himself has made it very clear how he views the domestic abuse allegations against former top aide Rob Porter. The President tweeted over the weekend, "People`s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false, some are old, some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused. Life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?" That came a day after the President publicly expressed sympathy for Porter, declining to even go so far as to mention the two women who say Porter terrorize and assaulted them while they were married.


TRUMP: We hope he was a wonderful and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him but it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly he is also very sad. Now, he also, as you probably know, he says he`s innocent and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he is innocent.


HAYES: The President`s eagerness to take Porter at his word could have something of course, to do with the fact that he said his own word against those of almost 20 different women accusing the President of sexual harassment, groping and other misconduct. In the past couple of days, the White House has sent out numerous surrogates to proclaim just how seriously the President takes domestic abuse but they could not explain why the President himself, never one shy to opine on issues of the day, was unable to send that message himself.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: The President has been clear multiple times through myself and others within the administration that we condemn domestic violence in all forms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has not said it. Why has he not said it?

SANDERS: I`m the spokesperson for the White House and the President and I`m saying it to you now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President have to say it. Why didn`t he say it?

SANDERS: I`m not sure how I can be any more clear. I think the President has espoused his views on this. He literally dictated that statement to me. And so I`m not really sure how that`s not the President speaking on that.


HAYES: Now, many people have pointed out just how hypocritical it is for this President to take a stand for due process. I mean, he has, after all, the guy who called for the Central Park Five to be executed, doubling down on that, after, after they were exonerated by DNA evidence. He, of course, is the man who led "lock her up" chants against Hillary Clinton. But here is the thing, it is not hypocrisy. It`s the wrong way to understand it because the President actually has been remarkably consistent about his view on these matters. Punishment is for other people, members of his team probably construed get the benefit of the doubt, always.

And that appears to have been the same logic followed by Chief of Staff John Kelly who last week mused about lazy DREAMers who failed to sign up for DACA, while almost at the same time showering praise and character testimonials on an alleged serial abuser. And now unable to explain how the White House responded to claims about Porter or how he was allowed to remain in his job for so long without full security clearance, the White House is sinking under the weight of its own obvious lies. And that is not a word we use lightly here on the show. According to John Kelly, he acted immediately upon learning the extent of the allegations.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you clarify to us exactly -- there`s been a lot of reporting about the timeline and when you found out about things. Can you just clarify that?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You found out Tuesday night?

KELLY: That the accusations we`re true. 40 minutes later he was gone.


HAYES: We know that is not true because it is a matter of public record. Last Wednesday, a day after Kelly says Porter was, "gone", the White House was still defending him. And Kelly himself standing by his statement and calling Porter, and I quote here, "a man of true integrity and honor." It is as flagrant a lie as Sean Spicer`s infamous whopper about the President`s inauguration crowd demanding we ignore the evidence of our own eyes which may be why today the White House changed its story yet again.


SANDERS: We learned of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening and within 24 hours his resignation has been accepted and announced. We announced a transition was going to happen, and within hours it did. And in terms of timeline, I don`t have anything else to add. I can tell you that a conversation took place within 40 minutes and beyond that, I really don`t have anything else to add that.


HAYES: That account is still full of holes. According to The New York Times, for example, by Thursday morning, well beyond 24 hours, Porter was still in his office clearing out his things and had to be nudged to leave. Tonight the White House will not explain why over a year after claims against Porter first surfaced, not just claims out of nowhere, not mere allegations, but claims by two women who furnished their evidence to the FBI, why he was still on the job handling the most sensitive classified information produced by the U.S. government. They insist they were following the normal background check process. But according to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney who held the same job in the Clinton White House, this was anything but.


REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: On that desk, there are a stack of red folders marked top secret. Every day our nation`s highest secrets are seen by the staff secretary. There is a burn bag under the desk because when you`re done, you incinerate those materials. The idea that someone without a security clearance was allowed to be there in the first place despite these allegations and was allowed to stay there with no plan for getting him clearance is not the normal process.


HAYES: Steve Schmidt is a Republican Strategist and an MSNBC Political Analyst, Jill Wine-Banks, former Watergate Prosecutor and an MSNBC Legal Analyst. And Steve, let me start with you. Let me just start with the second part of this, which is the lie, the lie that they were telling about what happened. What do you make of the fact that they are attempting essentially to just tell us we didn`t see what we saw?

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course, it`s just a continuation of the dishonesty we`ve seen from day one of this administration, Chris. It`s extraordinary. But, look, it tells us a couple of things about the west wing. First, it shows the abject incompetence of this White House. Second, it shows the complete recklessness involved, that the nation`s highest secrets are being entrusted to people who seemingly cannot pass FBI security clearances. They cannot obtain the top-secret clearances required to work in the west wing of the White House and handle classified information. Of course the aforementioned dishonesty.

But lastly, also I would say the cruelty. The cruelty of the administration towards these abused women, these credibly abused women. And so when we look at the totality of it all, you see a White House that is just melting down. And, again, this is an office where life-and-death decisions are made and god help us if we have a real crisis in this country with this cast of characters around the most important seat of power in this country and one of the most powerful offices in the world.

HAYES: You know, Jill, it strikes me that the lies they`re telling about this timeline are in some ways of tacitly acknowledgment of the fact they screwed up. It`s sort of evidence of consciousness of guilt. And as someone who was once general counsel for the Army, in the services, what do you think about Don McGahn and John Kelly`s actions here given what they knew and when they knew it?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think they are fireable offenses. As General Counsel of the Army, I had the security clearance that I can`t even tell you the name of because it`s a code word protected clearance. And no one should see those documents who doesn`t have it. They knew from the very beginning that he could not get cleared, and they knew why. So the question from Watergate is what did the President know and when did he know it? I want to know what McGahn knew and when he knew it. I want to know what Kelly knew and when he knew it. And I want to know what the President knew and I want to know why he was allowed -- he, Porter, was allowed to have documents. Why Jared Kushner, who still doesn`t, as far as I know, have a security clearance, why are they looking at our top secret documents?

HAYES: Steve, there is a little bit of rhetorical gamesmanship happening from the White House where they say well, they`re on a temporary security clearance, and the permanent hadn`t come back yet. But that`s probably not true. What probably is happening is a recommendation is being made that they cannot get, they cannot achieve that level security clearance. And so they keep them on a temporary so the President doesn`t have to go out on a limb and issue a personal waiver for them, right?

SCHMIDT: A couple of things, Chris. When I served in the Bush White House I hell held a top-secret SEI Clearance. For officials as high-ranking as Jared Kushner and others, the security clearing process, the vetting process literally would have begun the day after the election to get those clearances into place. Some 13 months after the inauguration, some 15 months after the election that they don`t have permanent security clearances would suggest to me that they`re unable to clear the FBI full- field background investigation and the White House security office will not grant a permanent top secret SEI code word level clearance that`s necessary to operate in these positions. And anybody who cannot pass that background check has no business handling, seeing, being privilege to the nation`s most closely guarded secrets. It threatens our intelligence cooperation with friendly countries abroad, it threatens the security of the American people. It is an abomination.

HAYES: There is also the fact, I mean, one of the most remarkable things I`ve seen in the first year of this White House is you have the President publicly defending this individual twice, once in person and one on Twitter. And then his aides have to scurry out and give anonymous quotes assuring everyone that, and I quote here, "behind closed doors the President told multiple people he believes the accusations against Porter and finds them sick. In front -- anonymous aides attaching they`re -- trying to assure the country or tell the country actually in private, the President actually doesn`t like domestic violence, contrary to what you may have gleaned from this public message.

BANKS: Absolutely. And that`s the same question that Sarah Sanders was asked as to why he, Donald Trump, hasn`t come out and spoken against domestic violence. He needs to be the voice of this, not speaking through her. And I want to just comment on her on the due process issue because I believe in due process. I just apparently have a different definition than the President does because when someone is accused and investigated by the FBI, that`s due process. And as the boss, you should be firing that person. You should not enable them and you should not give them secret documents.

HAYES: And let`s be very clear here about what happened with the FBI. The FBI was furnished evidence. This was not just people saying things. A photograph, a restraining order for the police in which he had broken a window. I mean, so this was substantiated allegations to some extent. This was not just out of nowhere. Steve Schmidt and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you, both.

I`m joined now by someone whose personal experience of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly`s dishonesty, Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. Congresswoman, in case folks do not recall, a constituent of yours, her husband was killed in action. You are very close to him and her. You had talked about their response and the response from the White House, the President`s call and what he said to her during that call. And John Kelly came out to defend the President and he had this to say about you at the time. Take a listen.


KELLY: And a Congresswoman stood up and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.


HAYES: I should say that later the video of the event he was talking about came out, it showed that he was not characterizing it in any way accurate what he said. What is your reaction to watching Kelly maneuver this situation?

REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: This is classic Kelly. He lied on me and now he is lying every day on the nose. And the sad part about it is this is a four-star general, retired who I suppose was an honorable man. And he wakes up every morning watching T.V. as each -- he loses each one of those stars. Each one he has lost for lying and he has gotten himself into a situation where the entire body of people surrounding him are willing to lie for the President of the United States. This is crazy. Why would he put his wonderful career on the line for Donald Trump, who will throw anyone under the bus and is just biding his time before he throws him under the bus? It`s awful. It`s awful.

HAYES: Do you think that he can continue to do his job, Mr. Kelly, given what you just said?

WILSON: He`s going to get beat up every day. People are not going the forget that he tried to take up or defend a wife beater, someone who didn`t have a security clearance to work in the White House. And I believe the President knew too. I believe they all knew months ago that this gentleman beat up his wife, two of them, and it`s my understanding that a girlfriend came forward. I don`t think people will forget that and just move on. They`re going to continue to speak about it because that`s wrong and it`s painful and he has not even expressed one ounce of sympathy to those poor victims who had the courage to come forward and tell of their experiences. And when you have a security clearance, the FBI questions you, and they know and they say this gentleman didn`t pass his security clearance. So why is he still there? Why are they protecting him? Because they don`t respect women.

HAYES: Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, thank you for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.

WILSON: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, did Devin Nunes obstruct justice when he created the memo? And while the President refuses to release the Democratic response, can Congress overrule him? We`ll talk about that in two minutes.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: -- with the FBI and go through any concerns that they have and any legitimate concerns and resources and methods we will redact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you do that before you submitted the memo, Congressman?

SCHIFF: Yes, we did. But what`s really going on here, Major, is the President doesn`t want the public to see the underlying facts.


HAYES: Congressman Adam Schiff, Top Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says he is ready to meet again with the FBI to redact any possible secrets in his memo defending the FBI from accusations of bias in obtaining a surveillance warrant on a former Trump Campaign adviser. If that means the President will actually release it. On Friday the President decided not to release the Democratic memo, citing concerns from the FBI and DOJ, even though he did release the memo it rebuts, the one written by well, Republicans in his own party, despite the concerns of his own top intelligence officials. Members of both parties have called for both memos to be released. They voted that way now. The President refused, tweeting over the weekend, "the Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew because the sources and methods and more would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. I told them to redo and send back in proper form."

The President was careful not to make any promises about ever actually releasing the memo. This morning, however, his legislative affairs director did, "you clean it up, you work with the FBI and send it back to us. We`re happy to release it." But there is another option. Under House rules, the full House could vote to override the President allowing House Intel to release the memo themselves. With me now, one of the members of the House Intel Committee, Congressman Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas. What is the next -- well, first, what is your response to what the President had to say this weekend?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, you know, I think the President has basically been playing a game, a political game. The Republicans wanted to get their side of the story or their memo out and have a week or two weeks and many news cycles to basically let it sit there and let their narrative be the only narrative out there. And remember, as Democrats, first of all, we didn`t really want to release a Republican or a Democratic memo, most of all because the American people can`t see the underlying source material that these memos are written about. But once the Republicans put out a memo that was false and inaccurate in so many ways, then, of course, we wanted to put out our own which rebuts a lot of those inaccuracies. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the President has not released it yet.

HAYES: At this point, how important is it that your memo comes out? And I ask this because it`s not like the Nunes memo has altered the trajectory of public opinion on this matter or changed a lot of minds I imagine or impacted the Russia investigation. Does it matter basically if your memo comes out?

CASTRO: Well, I would still like to see it come out to correct the record officially. If for no other reason than posterity but to correct the record. And I hope that the White House will ultimately cooperate with us and do that.

HAYES: Classification is something that is undertaken by the executive branch and its executive designation and it guards how members of that branch can use that information. Congress is actually not under that system. There are house rules that would allow essentially the full house to override the President where he to block the memos. Is that something you`re considering?

CASTRO: It`s not something that we`ve talked about, at least I haven`t been in those discussions. But we also are waiting for the President to go ahead and release it. If we get to the point where it looks like the President is not going to release it, or just simply leaves it in limbo for a long time, then certainly we`ll consider all options.

HAYES: Am I right that the FBI has not expressed any public hesitancy about releasing the Democratic memo where they did with the Republican memo?

CASTRO: You know, I know that there was a letter that they basically said they want to make sure that sources and methods are not compromised and so forth but we`ve already agreed to that. We want to make sure of the same thing. Now it is deeply hypocritical that the President used the advice of the FBI and the DOJ to withhold the Democratic memo, but basically ignored them completely and left the Republican one un-redacted and it came out as is.

HAYES: Where is your committee at right now?

CASTRO: That`s a great question. You know, obviously, the investigation continues. But we`ve not had witnesses in a while. And most of all, Chris, so that the American people understand this, the biggest fault, or one of the biggest faults of this investigation is that it has been a take them at their word investigation. We have these witnesses come in, sit down for two or five or seven hours or even longer sometimes. We listen what they have to say but then the majority, the Chairman is unwilling to issue a single subpoena to go verify anything that any of these witnesses are saying. So whatever they tell us, this committee is basically, unfortunately, the majority at least taking them at their word.

HAYES: The one exception to that is Steve Bannon. There`s been some back and forth. Do you think you`re going to get him there under oath?

CASTRO: I hope so. I sense that ultimately we will. I think they beat him up more to be quite honest because he is a man with no country right now.

HAYES: Right.

CASTRO: Because he`s out of favor at the White House and Donald Trump. He`s out of favor with the hard right, so they feel like they can beat him up more, and they`ve subpoenaed him. But I certainly hope we get the truth out of him.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Joaquin Castro, thanks for joining us.

CASTRO: Thank you.

HAYES: It`s entirely possible that Republican Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee has opened himself up and his staff to possible charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice. That is provocative thesis of an Op-Ed today in The New York Times. With me now, Caroline Fredrickson, one of the authors of that piece, she`s also President of the American Constitution Society. I was skeptical when I read the headline. I`m not sure I`m still sold by the actual piece. Make the case.

CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY: Well, look, to the involvement in releasing the memo, writing and releasing the memo and working with the White House in a coordinated way certainly puts Mr. Nunes and his staff right in the middle of Mueller`s investigation. If what they were doing was trying to impede the investigation and working with the White House to do so, that constitutes a conspiracy. At least it`s a plausible argument that I think Mr. Mueller be investigating.

HAYES: It is the case that Nunes has always been somewhat cagey about the fact that he, whether or not he was coordinating with the White House. Do you think that`s why he has been unclear on that point?

FREDRICKSON: Well, he was asked by Congressman Quigley directly whether or not he had coordinated with the White House. He demurred to that but when he was asked whether his staff had coordinated with the White House, he refused to answer. And when Mr. Trump was asked about what the point of this memo was and whether or not it might be used as a basis to fire Rod Rosenstein or -- and otherwise interfere with the Mueller investigation, he said basically, that`s pretty likely. So I think all of these things point to a very important thread of Mr. Mueller`s investigation in whether or not Devin Nunes was involved in coordinating the production of this memo deliberately to interfere with the investigation.

HAYES: You know, your Op-Ed clarified something for me, which has been part of the twilight zone we`re in with this administration, particularly the obstruction investigation, which is the things that might be normal politics under other circumstances have this added valance in the time of an obstruction of justice investigation which is to say there is all sorts of things the President might do, take actions against people in Justice Department, fire people, hire people, coordinating with Congress, that suddenly take on this different dimension because there was an active obstruction investigation.

FREDRICKSON: Well, you know, I wish it were the twilight zone. And unfortunately, it`s real America right now in 2018. We have these worries, deep worries, the President is not doing anything to dissuade us from having those worries. The things he says and does that indicate that he is interested in cleaning house at the Department of Justice and enabling the end to the investigation, that he sees as a threat to his Presidency. And let`s just remember what this was originally about. This was about whether or not Russia interfered with our elections. Something that we would wish we had a president who would embrace getting to the bottom of that question.

HAYES: Finally, I guess, do you worry about the danger of a kind of downward spiral of criminalization or accusations of criminal conduct? I mean, one of the things we saw in the campaign was the idea there is an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton, lock her up, lock her up, there is now an ongoing investigation of the Trump administration. You write an op said saying maybe Devin Nunes at the House might have exposed his staff criminal sanction. Is that a sign of something really deeply on the wrong track of our democracy?

FREDRICKSON: Well, let me just remind you and the viewers that we had all of our intelligence agencies found that there was a very strong evidence that Russia had interfered with our election. And so, I think what`s really dangerous is that the investigation to get to the bottom of that, to figure out what happened, how it happened, and how to stop it from happening again, that that investigation is being impeded. And I think that`s where our worries should be.

HAYES: All right, Caroline Fredrickson, thanks you for joining us.


HAYES: Coming up, Trump official resigned after it`s discovered, he still had another job on the side. That unbelievable story of the man in charge of America`s train safety who was moonlighting after this quick break.


HAYES: As the White House scrambles to explain how a man accused of domestic violence by two ex-wives was able to remain in one of the White House`s most sensitive jobs for so long, worth keeping in mind what we`ve learned about some of the other people who served in this administration. Like for example, the person who until very recently was in charge of rail safety. Heath Hall, who became the Federal Railroad Administration`s Acting Chief in June, I`m sure it`s kind of an obscure post but it`s a very important one. The agency has $1.7 million budget and Hall is responsible for the safety of millions of passengers.

Last year was the worst year for rail safety in at least decade with 828 death. And since December alone, there have been at least five fatal Amtrak crashes, including one in Washington that killed three people, one last month involving a train carrying Republican lawmakers and one just last week that killed two in South Carolina. Those crashes did not apparently have Heath Hall`s undivided attention. Hall resigned over the weekend after Politico reported that while running the agency, Hall appeared to be simultaneously working as a public relations consultant in Mississippi. Amazingly, while he was running the FRA, Hall appeared in at least two news stories as a spokesperson for the Madison County, Mississippi Sheriff`s Department.

The guy in charge of rail safety for the entire country, millions of people, had a side gig as a spokesman for a county sheriff`s department.

This is just one example of what we`re seeing out of this administration. There is also EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and his fondness for first class airfare and luxury hotels paid for with public funds. That incredible story coming up.


HAYES: Some rare good news tonight in the Trump administration`s immigration crackdown. Jesus Briones (ph), who was set to be deported today, was granted a stay after news outlets shined a light on his case, Birones (ph) has lived in the U.S. since he was brought here as a 1-and-a- half-year-old and is the sole breadwinner for his family. Also, his 5- year-old son Jaden is battling leukemia and undergoing chemotherapy right now.

When he was 19 years old, Briones (ph) was caught driving with a fake license, which is something that happens to people that don`t have legitimate papers, and deported. He then reentered the country. Under President Obama, ICE granted him a stay of removal based on his son`s illness, but under President Trump he was Briones (ph) was told he would be deported to Mexico, leaving his pregnant wife and five kids behind.

In response, he took refuge at the Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix, one of hundreds of so-called sanctuary churches that seek to protect immigrants facing deportation. Today, following news reports with headlines like "ICE trying to deport dad of Phoenix 5-year-old with cancer," ICE relented and allowed Briones (ph) to remain with his family, at least for now.

But many undocumented immigrants aren`t so lucky. The Washington Post reports that after Trump took office, arrests by immigration and customs enforcement officers surged 40 percent. Under Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has operated under new guidelines that allow ICE to target immigrants who were previously largely saved from deportation, because they had done nothing wrong.

The post reports that ICE made 37,734 noncriminal arrests in the government`s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year.

Joining me now, Cecilia Wang, Deputy Legal Director from the ACLU where she works on immigration issues.

What is the big difference now, as someone who worked on the issue with the Obama administration, and the Trump administration and how ICE is approaching its job?

CHRISTIE WANG, DEPUTY LEGAL DIRECTOR, ACLU: Well, I think the big differences, Chris, are that the Trump administration has deliberately set out to employ fear tactics to strike terror into the hearts of immigrant communities, into communities that have said they want to welcome immigrants and integrate immigrants into society. And what you see the Trump administration doing is instilling dragnet type police state type tactics that are really shredding all of our constitutional rights. You gave the example of Mr. Briones (ph) who thankfully was granted a stay of removal after public attention was put on, on the Trump administration`s tactics.

But time and again we`ve seen a systematic effort to do raids against communities in northern California, because state and local officials have spoken out against Trump administration policies. You`ve seen the Trump administration repeatedly, just in January of this, year threaten to criminally prosecute mayors, county officials or state officials, who have said we don`t want to participate in the Trump administration`s policies.

You`ve seen retaliation against immigrant activists like Ravi Ragbier (ph) in New York, Jean Montroviel (ph) in New York, just like the Trump administration did last year with Daniela Vargas, the young woman who spoke at a rally against the Trump administration, and then found herself arrested and put in deportation proceedings.

And the overall message, Chris, the biggest difference we`ve seen, a striking change with the Trump administration is the president has all but announced as president of the United States that he wants to go backwards to pre-civil rights era white nationalist immigration policies. And I don`t say that lightly. This is a key difference between the Trump administration and all the previous administrations we`ve seen in modern history going back to the 1960s.

HAYES: There is a few things there you mentioned I want to follow up. One on this dragnet idea, and there has been a lot of reporting on this. This comes from the Houston Chronicle. This is an advocacy group FIEL (ph) in Houston said Friday it was the latest attempt of what it said appears to be an increasingly common federal practice to target predominately Hispanic apartment complexes early in the morning on the pretext of looking for specific suspects than questioning bystanders without any evidence they are illegally here.

Is that something you`re hearing them do? Is that a new practice that has really flourished in the last year?

WANG: It`s something that the federal government experimented with during the Obama administration and actually gave up.

And so I think what`s new with the Trump administration is that they are encouraging Joe Arpaio type tactics like the one Texas example that you just gave. They want to unleash both federal ICE agents and border patrol agents as well as state and local officials who want to participate. And they want to pressure state and local officials who don`t want to participate into doing this. And we`ve seen the result.

We saw the result during the Obama administration when Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has since been disgraced, but then pardoned by Donald Trump, really started racially profiling Latinos or others who appear to be foreign. What we have learned time and again in the recent history is that when you tell a police officer, a sheriff`s deputy, go out and do immigration enforcement, you will see a pattern of race discrimination in traffic stops, and that`s part of the dragnet effect. That is why all of these policies of the Trump administration is trying to roll out target immigrants, but really hurt all of our communities.

HAYES: All right, Cecilia Wang, thanks for being with me tonight.

WANG: Thank you.

HAYES: Still to come, new reporting of with another Trump official with a taste for expensive travel.

And the Obamas are back in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two, next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, the Smithsonian unveiled its portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama today. And just to be clear, because there has been some confusion about this, there are two sets of portraits that are typically commissioned for presidents: the official White House portrait, like the one at the left of George W. Bush, which tends to be stately and traditional, and the one for the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian, which often takes more artistic license, like the one of Bush lounging on the sofa.

Now, this sympathetic version of Richard Nixon was painted by Norman Rockwell in 1968. Elaine Dekoenig (ph) painted this abstract expressionist version of John F. Kennedy, and in addition to portraits, there are even a few sculptures like this unusual mask rendering of Gerald Ford by Patrick Olaphant (ph), and this sculpture, also by Patrick Olaphant (ph), of a gangly George H.W. Bush tossing horseshoes.

But even against that backdrop, the portrait of Barack Obama created quite a stir. The former president`s account of how that came to be and the artist`s own surprising take, that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: So, the portraits of the first African-American president and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, were revealed today at the Smithsonian`s National Portrait Gallery by two renowned African-American artists. Amy Sherald, a Baltimore-based artist, painted the former first lady, and Kehinde Wiley was commissioned for the former president.

Now, Wiley is known for referencing for the old masters and is in this portrait of Ice-T as Napoleon. So, President Obama had expressed his concerns.


BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His initial impulse maybe in the work was to also elevate me and put me in these settings with partridges and scepters and thrones and chifforobes, mounting me on horses. And I had to explain that I`ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon. We`ve got to bring it down just a touch.


HAYES: The artist, however, disagreed with President Obama`s version of events.


KEHINDE WILEY, ARTIST: So how do you explain that a lot of that is just simply not true?


HAYES: While reaction to the unconventional portrait is mixed, I personally love it, I have to say. The reaction to just seeing Barack Obama again was pretty unanimous.


OBAMA: Michelle and I are so grateful for the friends and family and former staff and current staff who have taken the time to be here and honor news this way. We miss you guys. And...




HAYES: There is new reporting today about some more ways Scott Pruitt is spending the resources of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Washington Post reporting on Pruitt`s penchant for taking expensive first class flights in contrast to previous administrators.

In one fairly remarkable example, the Post cited a first class ticket for $1,641.43 just to travel between Washington, D.C. and New York and back. I didn`t even know they had first class tickets on those flights.

The Post reports that in one stretch in early June the taxpayer funded travel for Pruitt and his top aides cost at least $90,000. That figure does not account for the cost of Pruitt`s round the clock security detail, which have not been disclosed. And in case you`ve forgotten, that would be the 24/7 security that Pruitt added for himself, something that no single previous EPA chief has ever had before ever.

And if surrounded by bodyguards didn`t give him enough privacy, Pruitt also spent almost $25,000 of public money to build himself a soundproof phone booth.

Pruitt`s travels have garnered attention before today. EPA`s inspector- general is, in fact, currently investigating Pruitt`s very frequent trips back to his home state of Oklahoma, also on the public dime, which have fueled speculation he plans to run for office there after the EPA gig.

The president promised he would hire only the best people, and yet those so-called best people have not turned out so great over and over again. Why is that exactly? And where does the rot begin in this administration? We`ll discuss coming up.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has been clear multiple times through myself and with others in the administration that we condemn domestic violence in all forms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has not said it. Why has he not said it?

SANDERS: I`m the spokesman for the White House and for the president, and I`m saying it to you right now.


HAYES: President Trump publicly defended alleged domestic abuser Rob Porter, but he has not said anything about Porter`s ex-wives, the women who say he physically and verbally abused them.

His press secretary is unable to come up with a good explanation for his silence, another reminder that for this administration, always the biggest problem of all lives in the residence at the White House.

Olivia Nuzzi, Washington correspondent for New York Magazine, and MSNBC political analyst Jason Johnson is the politics editor at The Root.

Olivia, I`ll start with you. They seem caught on this story in a way that they often skate out of others, why is that?

OLIVIA NUZZI, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, I think when you actually look at the facts -- I mean, the first story that the Daily Mail published was pretty bad on its own. The details of that were not something that they should have been defending outwardly the way that they were, anyway. And then I think when it was followed up with those photos that were now unfortunately we`re so familiar with, I think even they realized that there was not really a way to try and spin their way out of it.

When you see Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the briefing today trying to spin her way out of it it is laughable. I mean, it`s like Sean Spicer levels of laughable, which she normally does not quite achieve, because she is so mundane the way that she talks, this monotone, it never quite reaches comedy in how ridiculous it is. And today it did. And because it was just unbelievable that she thought that she could talk her -- she didn`t seem to believe she could take her way out of it, but she was trying nevertheless.

HAYES: One of the things I found so striking, Jason, is you have got this administration in which you`ve got huge positions open. I mean, Rachel Brand who left number three at DOJ, reporting here at NBC News as part of the reason she left was because she didn`t have enough people under her to fill the basic duties of the government, the diplomatic corps at the State Department is being hollowed out. And one of the arguments that Don McGahn made for keeping Rob Porter when he found out this was, look, here is a guy that Rhodes Scholar, Ivy League pedigree, can we really afford to leave him go even if he`s done this?

JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Well, here is the problem, the members of this administration behave as if you can`t find a guy out there that doesn`t beat women, and I think you can. I think there are plenty of people in Washington, D.C. who haven`t beaten their wives, who haven`t girlfriends, who haven`t threatened people, who haven`t grabbed reporters. The fact that this administration continues to hire people like this and that pretend that they can`t find anyone else is an indicator that they are actually comfortable with that attitude, they`re comfortable with those beliefs, and they want to continue justifying that behavior.

And want makes it so problematic in all honesty, Chris, is it isn`t just the president, it isn`t just Kelly, but they also bring in women who support these kinds of men. We already have reports of Hope Hicks being part of some -- coming out with a communications about Porter, we already hear about Kellyanne Conway. We already hear about the White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders. So, the women are just as convicted in protected domestic abusers as many of the men.

HAYES: There`s also the fact that this is a White House that runs the country, right? So, the president is sitting at the top. We know that he likes to take his executive time. He likes to watch Fox and Friends. But when you go through like the departures, there is actually been a lot of people run out by scandal.

I mean, the head of the CDC was buying and selling tobacco stocks on her first day on the job, and it was like maybe a two-hour story, but there is people dying of the flu every day. Like, these jobs, what is broken in that White House in terms of the personnel? Why are they unable to do this?

NUZZI: Well, I think you have to ask yourself, the people who are there, why are they there? What compels somebody to work for Donald Trump, what compelled them on the campaign? What compels them now in the White House? I think the answer differs from staffer to staffer. But I think there are people a lot of people who don`t -- who are professionals and perhaps don`t want to be associated with this administration, people who maybe could do these jobs confidently.

but if you look at the press shot, I mean, that kind of explains why there is no messaging on this Rob Porter story, why they are in complete conflict with each other, the different officials. There is no cohesive this is what the White House is saying today. I have no idea what the White House is saying today on this, because they have said so many conflicting confusing things and I keep looking at it and thinking like surely I have missed something. Surely, there is something that they have said that would explain what is happening here and there isn`t. There are all these questions left unanswered.

HAYES: I actually have that, like am I crazy, am I misremembering thought when Kelly was like, well, we find out 45 minutes later. I was like, oh, am I really misremembering? I was sick last week. Let me -- but, no, it`s not that. But the other problem here is fundamentally, Jason, is anyone that works in the White House, works in the administration has to work for Donald Trump and ultimately that permanent truth will filter who is going to work in the administration.

JOHNSON: Well, yeah, first off you have to be somebody who is loyal to Donald Trump, right. And we have talked about this for a week.

Now, you know, you can be accused of being a pedophile, you can be accused of beating women, you can be accused of using your position to enrich yourself and keep a job and get then publicly defended by this administration, but if you got caught writing a critical article or a negative tweet about Donald Trump during the campaign, you`re gone.

So, clearly, it`s only attracting a certain kind of sycophants, certain kind of men and women who are willing to go along with this authoritarian regime, many people who are capable and qualified, conservatives who are capable and qualified who want to serve this country do not want the stench of this administration on them and I think that`s why you are seeing everybody flee like rats from a ship and it`s going to get worse.

HAYES: Yeah, is it going to get harder or easier for them to attract people?

NUZZI: I think it`s going to get more difficult. They`re just running out of people. You know, people keep leaving and resigning or being fired. They may just run out of new people to bring in at a certain point. I guess time will tell. But it seems like it will get more difficult for them over time.

HAYES: Olivia Nuzzi and Jason Johnson, thanks for joining me. Nice to have you on the show today.

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