Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: March 1, 2018 Guest: Ron Wyden, David Jolly, Eric Swalwell, Richard Painter, Andrea Bernstein
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Sir, I thank you for coming on. Winston Duke, Actor in a great movie which is going to be one of the great movies ever and you`ll be part of it, sir. And thank you because I got that message you just described.
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MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Anyway, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. ALL IN with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia is a ruse.
HAYES: News that more charges may be coming.
TRUMP: Jared`s doing some very important things for our country.
HAYES: As the calls for the President`s son-in-law to resign grow louder
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: My name is Jared Kushner.
HAYES: Tonight NBC News reports that Robert Mueller is planning to charge Russians for hacking the DNC. Word of yet another White House departure and how Jared Kushner`s troubles just keep growing. Then --
TRUMP: Congressman Nunes, I really think someday he`s going to be greatly honored for his service and for what he`s done.
HAYES: New reporting of Devin Nunes conspiring to stop the Senate investigation of Trump and the Russians. And as the stock market plunges and some Democrats celebrate, what to make of the trade war the President just started?
TRUMP: Listen, (BLEEP). I`m going to tax you 25 percent.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is getting ready to charge the Russian operatives who stole Democratic e-mails and released them to the public to influence the 2016 election. Current and former officials familiar with the matter are telling NBC News that like the indictment a couple weeks ago against the Russians who waged "information warfare against the U.S. during the election," the possible new charges are expected to rely heavily on secret intelligence gathered by the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. According to NBC sources, the charges could come in the next few weeks or months.
And the more Mueller`s probe advances, the more chaotic it seems to get in the White House. The past few days seem to have been especially turbulent even by the standards already set by this administration. And that is not just the view from the outside, I hasten to add. Sources close to the President tell Axios that is, I`m quoting, he`s in a bad place, mad as hell about the internal chaos and the sense that things are unraveling. They always sort of feel like they`re unraveling so who knows. Communications Director Hope Hicks is leaving, one of the President`s longest-serving aides and closest confidantes. The President is at war publicly and openly with his Attorney General who he calls Mr. Magoo apparently behind his back said the Attorney General has refused to use the Department of Justice at least as of yet or as far as we know to pursue criminal investigations of the President`s political foes.
And now five sources are telling MSNBC that the President`s National Security Adviser may get the boot as early as next month. H.R. McMaster replaced previous National Security Adviser Michael Flynn last year after just 24 days on the job. Michael Flynn, of course, having pleaded guilty to a felony. According to Buzzfeed, many other staffers are now headed for the exits as the White House spins out of control. Today this was how Chief of Staff John Kelly described leaving his old job as Homeland Security Secretary to work at the White House.
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JOHN KELLY, CHIEF OF STAFF, WHITE HOUSE: The last thing I wanted to do is walk away from one of the great honors of my life, being the Secretary of Homeland Security but I did something wrong and god punished me I guess.
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HAYES: That is a funny joke, I guess. Meanwhile, one of the few remaining aides within the President`s inner circle is under pressure from -- and scrutiny from every direction. That of course, the President`s son-in-law, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner who appears to be a key figure in the Mueller investigation, he took meetings of course with Russian nationals both during the campaign and crucially during the transition. Ones he did not disclose initially in his background check paperwork and he has we should say denied any wrongdoing.
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KUSHNER: Let me be very clear. I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses. And I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information.
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HAYES: In just the last few days, Kushner was stripped of his top-secret security clearance having been unable to pass an FBI background check which itself a bit of a red flag. We learned from the Washington Post that foreign officials had discussed ways to manipulate Kushner in four different countries through his inexperience and family real estate business which has been deep in debt and staved for capital, looking for people to lend it money. And then on top of all of that, the New York Times breaks the news that that same business received half a billion dollars in loans, billion with a B, from firms whose chief executives met with Kushner at the White House. According to the administration, Kushner`s job is still safe.
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TRUMP: Jared`s done an outstanding job. I think he`s been treated unfairly. He`s a high-quality person. He works for nothing just so you know, nobody ever reports that, but he gets zero. He doesn`t get a salary. Jared is truly outstanding.
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HAYES: Senator Ron Wyden is a Democrat from Oregon who sits on both the Senate Intelligence and Finance Committees. Senator, there are lots of folks calling for Jared Kushner to resign. Are you among them?
SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Certainly I think there are a whole host of questions with respect to his financial entanglements. You know, when you`re doing security clearance reviews, those kinds of entanglements really almost make you a magnet for blackmail and foreign efforts to compromise you. So I think it was very appropriate the action that was taken this week with respect to his security clearance.
HAYES: Wasn`t it too late though? I mean, he`s spent 14 months looking at the nation`s most sensitive secrets.
WYDEN: What I can tell you is I think Bob Mueller is just getting started. And it`s on a whole host of issues, for example, the new report that you all just broke tonight shows that this Russian hacking was a very serious crime against our country and it was a crime that Donald Trump both cheered and applauded. And at this point, it`s almost hard to be shocked anymore. You read about Jared Kushner`s entanglements, you read about the daily revelation, you try to be very specific on the issues that are most recent and for example, on the new report that you all are breaking here just in the last hour or so, what I want to know with respect to that Russian hack is did any Americans know in advance.
HAYES: You sit on the intelligence committee and so you have access to classified information and the rest of us don`t. And I`m going to ask you a question that I think you can answer without betraying that which is are you confident that the intelligence exists that would allow Mueller to make a specific case, to make a specific charge against those persons or entities responsible for the hack?
WYDEN: I can`t comment on the specifics of what Bob Mueller is looking at, but what I can tell you, Chris, is look at how he has gone about his job. You have this decorated war hero. He served Democrats and Republicans. He`s done everything by the book. I`m particularly pleased that he`s focusing on what I call the follow the money issues because follow the money is counterintelligence 101. That`s how you compromise people and unfortunately, the Republicans on the Hill aren`t working on those follow the money issues. For example, CNN is now running a report that Michael Cohen who`s the money man for President Trump, he might not even be brought back to the Senate Intelligence Committee when we were led to believe earlier that he would be. So the fact is, Bob Mueller works on the criminal side. It`s our job on the Intelligence Committee to tell the story to the American people and we`re going to do it.
HAYES: Again, just so if you can answer it this way. Do we know who did this? Say that. Does the American government know who did this, who pulled off the hacks?
WYDEN: What I can do is not comment on what Bob Mueller is looking at specifically. What I can say, however, is that he is going about this inquiry in the kind of deliberative fashion where I don`t think he`s going to miss any thinging.
HAYES: Senator Ron Wyden, thanks for your time tonight.
WYDEN: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: For more on the President`s embattled son-in-law, I`m joined by former Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, now an MSNBC Legal Analyst and David Jolly, former Republican Congressman from Florida. David, let me start with you. One thing that`s sort of remarkable here is that when you zoom out to the context here, Jared Kushner is part of a broader problem in the White House. There`s 30 Trump aides who lost their top secret clearance. It`s very clear that the entire process was a train wreck. The Rob Porter case was a sort of canary in the coal mine but we got Don McGahn, the White House Counsel didn`t have permanent clearance for ten months. I want to play you the way that Candidate Trump talked about the handling of classified info during the campaign. Take a listen.
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TRUMP: The Secretary of State was extremely careless and negligent in handling our classified secrets. We can`t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn`t understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified. In my administration, I`m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information.
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HAYES: I mean, it`s like he traveled into the future.
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN FROM FLORIDA: Sure. Look, Chris, Donald Trump is a liar and we know that. He has mishandled, he has been careless with classified information and he has surrounded himself with people to borrow from David Frum. He surrounded himself with a bunch of D list talents willing to accept a certain amount of disloyalty to demonstrate their incompetent on the world stage. And that including his own son-in-law in Jared Kushner and it includes people like those who are left from Sarah Huckabee Sanders who is a pathological liar to Kellyanne Conway who talked about alternative facts to Steven Miller and his white nationalism.
This is nothing that should surprise us tonight one year into this administration. This President has not treated confidential information and classified information with the fidelity that past presidents have. And at the end of the day, on a day when we are facing new threats from Russia, when we are facing evolving threats from North Korea, when we are facing an evolving Middle East crisis, we have a president who does not understand the significance of the powers that he holds as Commander in Chief.
HAYES: You know, David`s talking about carelessness and carelessness obviously was the critique you saw from the President there. But there`s also the question with Jared Kushner, Jill, it seems to me of if there was something more than carelessness. I mean, this is -- Marcy Wheeler wrote this piece that I thought was very interesting. She`s a National Security Journalist. Mueller appears to be assessing whether Kushner and the guise are pursuing foreign policy in behalf of U.S. was actually serving the interests of his family and foreign governments. Do you think he has criminal exposure at this moment?
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think he has a lot of criminal exposure and that is certainly one theory of it. Given his meetings with a Russian banker and his requests for a back channel from the Russian embassy and his meetings that led to, were, discussions about offering a job in the White House to companies that ended up loaning him, as you noted, one-half billion dollars. Those are things that could easily be considered criminal acts. And I think that he may be held accountable. He`s hidden all of his relationships with Russia. He has revised his statement about who he had contacts with numerous times and I doubt that they`re correct even now. So we need to keep looking at him. Mueller is exactly pursuing the right path.
HAYES: David, you looked like you wanted to say something.
JOLLY: Sure, look, when we talk about security clearances and we`re talking about Jared Kushner, when we talk about security clearances the very real issue is national security, right? Fundamental to a security clearance if there is not some very specific event are debts, particularly by foreign nation states, infidelity and substance abuse. Those are the top three issues when it comes to security clearances. And this administration we know at least the first two are on the line. And we know with Jared Kushner, international debts are on the line. This person will never have a security clearance, SCI, a top security clearance and that affects the counsel that the President of the United States is receiving tonight.
HAYES: Jill, there`s a real question here about the next phase in the Mueller investigation particularly as it pertains to the news we have that he`s preparing hacking charges. At some level, that is not surprising. What do you think the factors are about deciding when he would bring those charges which is the one crime we kind of all know happened because we all saw it happen in front of us.
BANKS: Right, I mean, that`s been clear since the intelligence services have told us that the Russians hacked our system and that the White House is doing nothing to prevent it. And I would say that the sooner that Mueller acts the better because we need to do something and I was very happy when Senator Wyden said that it is the Congress` job to bring the story to the public, it is Mueller`s job to bring criminal charges. And we shouldn`t forget that they need to do something in Congress to change the laws to protect us from what the Russians are doing. And if the White House won`t involve themselves on it, Congress still has to do it. So I`m very happy that they`re focusing on that.
HAYES: Do you think, David, that Mueller`s charges, the first round of charges against Russian actors entities and it -- were he to indict the hackers, does that buy him political capital and support both among the public at large, Republican leaders and Republican office holders?
JOLLY: You know, it should but you don`t have to look any further than Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intel Committee who should be siding with Mueller but instead he`s apologizing for Donald Trump and he`s leaking classified information to try to undermine Mueller`s investigation. The Republicans have gone all-in to try to undermine Mueller. And why it`s important, Chris? Yes, of course, it`s important about 2016. But Hillary Clinton said this recently, this is about 2018. What are we doing about 2018? We have heard intel officials within this administration suggest that Donald Trump is not going to do anything about 2018. This is a national security moment. If this was Pearl Harbor, we would respond but this President is not responding to the threat of an attack from Russia just six months from now.
HAYES: Jill Wine-Banks and David Jolly, thank you both.
JOLLY: Good to be with you.
HAYES: Up next, a new report that House Republicans as David was actually just mentioning, leaked Senator Mark Warner`s text messages to derail the Russian investigation. That is wild, and Mueller`s team is reportedly preparing more indictments in his probe. We`ll have both of those stories in two minutes.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to bring you a Fox News alert. Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, Fox News has learned texted with a Russian oligarch lobbyist in an effort to contact account author of the Trump dossier Christopher Steele because you can`t make this up.
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HAYES: I guess you can`t. Trump T.V. went after the top Democrat in the Senate Intelligence Committee last month trying to discredit Mark Warner based on his private text messages with a Russian connected lobbyist from whom he was seeking information for the committee`s work. Leaders of the Senate Intel Committee reportedly know who leaked those tests, the ones that appeared on Trump T.V. there. According to the New York Times, today, they concluded several weeks ago it was Republicans on the House Intel Committee. That committee is, of course, led by Devin Nunes, the man whose hometown newspaper calls him Trump`s stooge. Senator Warner and Senate Intel Chairman Richard Burr would not confirm the report when asked about it today. But joining me now, Democratic Member of the House Intelligence Committee, same committee as Devin Nunes, Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. Did your Republican colleagues leak private texts of your Democratic Senator counterpart?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, Chris, good evening. They are not denying it. That is what is most concerning to me is they issued a statement today only taking issue with what they called the absurd nature of the story but they didn`t deny what was alleged in the story. It also would not be the first time that we have read in the papers updates to our investigation. We`ve seen the selective leaking to the Washington Examiner where Democrats have learned for the first time about witness who are coming in. But this just shows the American people what we`re up against, the snow we have to plow which is that Donald Trump has free legal counsel in the -- on the House Intelligence Committee and that`s what we`re up against every day.
HAYES: Wait, but let me just -- I`m asking you who make -- what do you believe? Do you believe that your colleagues leaked these texts?
SWALWELL: Again, they`re not denying it, Chris. So --
HAYES: You do believe it?
SWALWELL: They would deny it if they didn`t. That`s kind of how had I see it. But also --
HAYES: But isn`t that -- am I wrong that that`s nuts? I mean, I guess --
SWALWELL: It`s nuts but it`s not even the biggest nut in this -- you know, in this investigation. So we just plow forward because that`s the best that we can do and we hope if they don`t get their act straight by November, that you know, we do this investigation the right way and that the American people will be protected from future Russian interference.
HAYES: I should say a little more context, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the folks the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate side were so perturbed by the leak they demanded a rare meeting with1n last month to inform him of their findings, that them telling Paul Ryan you know, sort of come get your boy. They`re leaking -- they`re leaking stuff about us. There`s also this -- I just want to ask your thought on this because a few days before that story came out which was spent about 24 hours in the news cycle among Trump allies as somehow discrediting, Julian Assange had D.M., someone, he thought was Sean Hannity offering -- basically saying that there`s going to be big news on Mark Warner. What do you make of that?
SWALWELL: Well, again it, looks like they`re all working in concert is what I see which goes -- which reminds me of what happened frankly in the fall of 2016 where you have Roger Stone intimating leaks coming out against John Podesta. You have the Billy Bush tape that came out on I believe October 8th and then Julian Assange started leaking you know, the WikiLeaks Podesta e-mails. So it does appear that there is an effort. As I said, unfortunately, that effort now includes and has included the House Intelligence Committee where we`re supposed to be independent and putting in place reforms so that this doesn`t happen. And this is enabling further I think interference for the 2018 midterm elections.
HAYES: So I want to ask you about white lies which is the phrase of the week in many ways.
SWALWELL: That`s not a fragrance.
HAYES: No, it`s not a fragrance. There is -- there was a report shortly after Hope Hicks testimony before your committee earlier in the week that she had admitted to telling white lies on behalf of the President but nothing substantive. Your colleague Congressman Rooney, Republican, was angry at the way that you went about asking Hope Hicks questions. And I want to sort of read his account of what happened and get your response. So Rooney said that Swalwell went through the phone book asking Hicks whether a litany of 50 people including the entire Trump family had ever asked Hicks to lie. Hicks gave a blanket response by declining to answer in each instance, Rooney said, she wasn`t going to respond to those questions and she shouldn`t have. Is Rooney wrong?
SWALWELL: Yes. I also think it`s unfortunate that her testimony, you know, the white lies part was leaked out but when Mr. Rooney came forward and said it was unfair to even ask the question, I believe that the public needs to know the context which is it is a completely fair question to ask somebody has your boss ever asked you to lie. And if you have to take two time-outs to device and come up with an answer, then we already know the answer. And I wanted to know whether Donald Trump has asked her to lie, whether she has observed him asking others to lie and also whether any other principals on the campaign like Donald Trump Jr. or Ivanka or Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner have asked her to lie and she refused to answer each time. I think if the answer the answer is no, she would have plainly said no.
HAYES: I just want to make clear that Rooney`s characterization in that respect was accurate that you went through all these people, asked directly if they asked her to lie and she just refused to answer is what happened?
SWALWELL: Yes. I went -- any individual who has not been forth coming in the Russia investigation who has made an assertion that`s been proved to be false asked her if one of those individuals asked her to lie and she refused to answer for each individual. If the answer was no, I think she would have plainly said no.
HAYES: That`s a fair point. Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank for joining me.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
HAYES: Next, NBC News reporting tonight H.R. McMaster could soon be out joining the nearly 40 people who have already left the Trump administration. So who exactly is left to run the country? Tonight, a special ALL IN discussion right after this.
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TRUMP: I just wanted to announce, we`ve been working all weekend very diligently, very hard that General H.R. McMaster will become the National Security Adviser. He`s a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.
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HAYES: The man you see there sitting next to the President who took over as National Security Adviser after Michael Flynn was fired but before he was indicted may be leaving as soon as next month. NBC News now reporting tonight the White House is preparing to replace H.R McMaster, a move apparently, according to our reporting orchestrated by Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis according to five sources. If McMaster leaves, the President would need to fill that position for a third time and McMaster would join 37 administration officials who resigned or been fired under Trump.
For more on just what is happening inside this White House, Andrea Bernstein, she`s Senior Editor at WNYC, Co-Host of the podcast Trump Inc. which is doing some great reporting on Trump`s inner circle and the people around him, Philip Rucker MSNBC Political Analyst and White House Bureau Chief for the Washington Post and Richard Painter who is Chief White House Ethics Lawyer for President George W. Bush. And Philip, I`ll start with you about the McMaster reporting. You know, the first thing I thought when I saw that story was the tweet directed at McMaster about his speech about Russia interference which seemed very much in the genre of tweets the President sends to Jeff Sessions who we know he despises, but McMaster sort of works in the White House in a way that Sessions doesn`t. Do you think he`s on his way out?
PHILIP RUCKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He could be, Chris. We know that McMaster works daily with President Trump. He briefs him on all of the number of national security matters and there`s a real lack of chemistry there. Trump has been frustrated with McMaster at times over many months really from the beginning and they`ve not really gotten along particularly well. And yet, McMaster has stayed in this job in part because he`s not made any huge errors and there`s also not been a ready heir an apparent consensus choice to replace him. We`ll see if that happens now. We can tell you, there`s also tension between McMaster and others in the National Security orbit including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. And so, it may just be that his time is up here but we`ll have to see.
HAYES: Richard, you worked in the White House. We got -- the numbers here are -- the turnover rate is off the charts. It`s 34 percent in the first year for Trump. And we should also note there are more vacancies at very high levels particularly in the agencies than in almost any other administration. What -- I guess there`s two schools of thought. One is like well, it`s better no people than bad people and the other is there`s got to be someone to run the government and this going to catch up to people.
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Well, yes, you need good people. And McMaster he`s one of the good people. There aren`t a lot of good people in this administration because nobody wants to work for Donald Trump. He`s impossible to work for. And when the good people leave, who are they going to replace him with? This is a very bad situation. It`s a big problem for our national security. And Vladimir Putin is looking at us like we`re vulnerable. He`s already attacked our country once in the election of 2016, he`s developing new missiles, and we have constant turnover in our national defense apparatus. This is a very bad situation. And we have a president who doesn`t care to understand foreign policy or national security issues.
HAYES: Richard`s question about who is going to replace him, the thing I thinking about too is do you want to walk into a situation in which the next day Bob Mueller might come knocking at your door about some conversation you overheard?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, SENIOR EDITOR, WNYC: Well, people do keep taking jobs in the Trump administration. I mean, I think one of the realy sort of interesting subtexts of this McMaster story is that in the big Washington Post story about Jared Kushner and how four other four countries might have tried to compromise him through his business ties one of the sort of subplots that emerged was that McMaster was not informed of Jared Kushner`s activities. And it seemed to be sort of.
HAYES: And was not happy with it, we should say. And he kept saying hey, home boy, what are you doing?
BERNSTEIN: Why are you having these meetings? You could be vulnerable. You haven`t been fully briefed. So it has been a roiling subplot this week who is going to sort of win out in all of this. And then McMaster also had the misfortune of seemingly contradicting his boss, the president on the Russia investigation.
So, all of this has been sort of roiling this week as seems like McMaster has been trying to actually exert control over the national security of the country.
HAYES: You know, Phil, I`m of a two minds here. Like, on one level I think you can make a contrarian case. You can make a contrarian that the weakness of American institutions have been illustrated by the last year. You can make a contrarian case I think that actually there`s some sort of strength and durability, because given the level of chaos in the White House, the country is functioning at large at a higher level of sort of competence than would be represented by what`s happening in that building.
RUCKER: And that`s because of so many of the professionals, especially in the military but people like Mattis, McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who also has been at odds with the president at times, they`re trying to keep things in order. They`re trying to sort of shut out the noise from their boss, try to ignore the tweets when they can, and keep the government functioning and protecting the American people. I mean, these are high stakes issues. McMaster is dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat every day. He`s also got his own threat sort of a few doors down in the Oval Office, but it`s a lot to manage.
HAYES: There`s this amazing PowerPoint presentation from the contractors, the construction industry trade group. They`re putting together a presentation to say here`s how to deal with the Trump administration. There`s a slide that says the Trump administration is being run like a bad family-owned small business. This is not me, this is the general contractors trade industry group telling their members how to deal. They said autocratic leader, no coordination of message mission, employees operate in fear, loyalty exalted overall, family members untouchable, frank discussion, internal criticism discouraged, pits individuals groups against others, lack of delegation...
BERNSTEIN: Well, that does sound like we have been doing in the Trumping podcast which is a podcast that we`re doing with ProPublica. We have been looking deeply into...
HAYES: ...at the small family business that they ran.
BERNSTEIN: And it does -- people who work there have said to us that it was seat of the pants. It was chaos. There was a story one of his former employees told us about how he went to Hong Kong to meet with financiers and then Donald Trump hired someone else to set up a meeting with the very people his staff were meeting with.
So, this has been a constant theme. And the question that is raised by the events of this week is sort of who is making sure that the interests of the nation are being put before the interests of any private business, and it`s coming up again with this Kushner story because even if everything was lines were drawn.
HAYES: That`s exactly right.
BERNSTEIN: Questions remain about the sort of whose interest was Kushner acting in, whose interest is President Trump acting in. And it`s because of a structural instability not necessarily because of any particular thing.
HAYES: That`s a great point. It`s like who is doing the jobs and who are they working for, Richard. You were just nodding your head.
PAINTER: Yes. This is a way you run a Banana Republic. You have a strong man and his family are running everything and making a lot of money in their businesses, and who make sure that all the government officials are loyal to them. And it`s easy to corrupt those types of countries. And I guess that`s the direction these people want to take the United States. We`re going to take a global superpower and degrade it into a Banana Rrepublic.
But as a I say, the only person who is going to come out ahead on this is Putin. And we are in very, very serious trouble when our national security is at risk and people are leaving the government simply because they can`t get along with the president who just about nobody can get along with. And then we have Jared Kushner running around cutting business deals all over the world, collecting money. He`s deeply in debt to a whole bunch of people who want something out of the United States government. He can`t even get a security clearance. Bob Mueller is on his tail. I mean, this is just a complete disaster in a little over a year what these people have done to degrade our country.
HAYES: I will say one last note, because we`ve seen a lot of reporting on Kushner and this question about where national security and sort of public interest/private interest are all sort of meeting up, there`s new reporting that the FBI has counterintelligence investigation, or at least counterintel folks at FBI are looking into an Ivanka Trump business deal, and then looking into the negotiations financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, which has opened about a month after the president was sworn in. That`s a licensing deal. He didn`t develop that, but it involves a Malaysian expat and some money moving around that I think has people a little worried. That`s just the latest from this.
Philip, finally, I have not seen Ivanka named in stories like this. This seems like a new thing.
RUCKER: It does. And you know what, it`s not totally surprising, because just like her husband, Jared Kushner, just like her father, the president, Ivanka Trump has a global business footprint. She has products that are made around the world. She is involved in hotels around the world, and other branding opportunities around the world. And that`s an opportunity for scrutiny and an opportunity for potential problems for her financially.
BERNSTEIN: And they are all still have financial ties with their companies and that is the concern that there are no blind trusts, there`s...
BERNSTEIN: ...no separation.
HAYES: And they didn`t get rid -- they`re still.
BERNSTEIN: The conflict of interest doesn`t mean you threw a case, it means that people don`t know whose interest you`re working in. And that does seem to be what`s going on here.
HAYES: Andrea Bernstein, Phillip Rucker, and Richard Painter, thank you all for joining us.
Still ahead, the president sends his White House into chaos after a surprise announcement. How America`s allies are reacting to Trump`s trade war coming up.
And the luxurious life of being a public servant in the Trump administration is tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, the high flying EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is clipping his wings. Pruitt has been if the news repeatedly for using public money to fly first class. He said his security detail requested it because, quote, we live in a very toxic environment politically. In other words, non-rich people had the audacity to yell at him and tell him he was doing a bad job. Better, then, to stay up front with rich folks who apparently are cool with him.
But after weeks of bad publicity, Pruitt now says he`s given his security detail new instructions.
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SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: What I`ve told them going forward is this: there`s a change occurring. You`re going to accommodate the security threats as they exist. You`re going to accommodate those in all ways, alternate ways, up to and including flying coach, and that`s going to happen on my very next flight.
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HAYES: Wow. He`s going to fly coach. Big concession here, as you just heard, is that he has ordered his security detail to explore options up to and including coach. I mean, that`s drastic. Whatever that means.
The next flight will be in coach, however. After that, you never know where you might see Scott Pruitt.
But while Scott Pruitt suffers with the masses in coach, Ben Carson now says he is trying to return his dinette set that cost the public $31,000. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: HUD Secretary Ben Carson initially said he didn`t know anything about the $31,000 dining room purchased for his office and had no intention to return it. What a difference a day and a House oversight probe makes, because this morning Carson issued a statement, quote, "the secretary`s dining room is used for business luncheons with a wide variety of people and groups. The furniture is 30 to 50 years old, is very worn, has also been characterized as unsafe. I left this matter alone to concentrate on much bigger issues. I was as surprised as anyone to find out the $31,000 dining set had been ordered. I have requested the order be canceled.
The agency now says they are working to rescind the order.
Now, in the grand scheme of the HUD budget, $31,000 is not a massive amount. President Trump, afterall, is proposing a nearly $7 billion cut to the HUD budget. And to be fair to Mr. Carson, he doesn`t know anything about those numbers either.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would the secretary of HUD not give the number, the amount that you`re cutting from housing vouchers, Mr. Carson? You`re the secretary of HUD.
BEN CARSON, HUD SECRETARY: Because we.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re making the cut.
CARSON: Because we`ve already talked about the total amount of the cuts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the total amount does not help me when it comes to the housing vouchers. I have people who use housing vouchers and I need to be able to explain to them, Mr. Carson, how much the cut portends for them.
CARSON: I don`t want to open the book and look at the numbers.
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SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) UTAH: That`s going to turn around and bite the American citizens with much higher taxes, much higher costs, and it`s going to discombobulate our whole international trading system. So I`m very upset about it, as you can see. And I think it`s very inadvisable.
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HAYES: That was Senator Orrin Hatch who once profusely praised Trump as a heck of a leader called him one of the best he`s ever served under with the potential of being the best ever.
That`s him begging the president not to follow through with his very sudden announcement today of steep new steel and aluminum tariffs. And Hatch is not the only one freaking out. Other Republicans were blind-sided by the news. Speaker Paul Ryan urging the president to consider the unintended consequences of his idea while trade partners like the European Union and crucially Canada have already promised retaliation.
As to whether we`re looking at a trade war and what that might actually mean, I want to talk to three people who know all about this kind of thing: Stephanie Kelton, who analyzed the American economy from the inside out when she was chief economist from the Democrats on the U.S. Senate budget committee; also independent oil trader, expert on global energy markets Dan Dicker; and Leo Gerard, the international president of the United Steel Workers which came out in favor of those tariffs today.
Dan, let me start with you. Good idea, bad idea?
DAN DICKER, OIL TRADER: It`s a horrible idea. It`s one of the worst I think Trump`s ever come up with. The idea is obviously to protect steel our domestic steel and aluminum manufacturers. But what happens is the price of steel and aluminum go up for everybody, and that in turn gets responded to by other countries by increasing tariffs on things that we send to other countries, particularly China, because this is without a doubt, it`s directed at China despite the fact it`s annoying the Canadians, at least right now, it`s designed to annoy the Chinese, and that`s really where it`s going to end up with a trade war going on with the Chinese.
So costs go up for everyone. Jobs get lost on balance here in this country, jobs get lost on balance in other countries. And for everybody, the consumer costs for just about everything start to expand just from a little tariff on steel and aluminum.
HAYES: Leo, obviously you support these tariffs and have been working on this issue for a long time. I want you to make the case for the tariffs right after we take this quick break. Don`t go anywhere.
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TRUMP: We`ll be imposing tariffs on steel imports and tariffs on aluminum imports. And you`re going to see a lot of good things happen.
It`ll be 25 percent for steel. It will be 10 percent for aluminum, and it will be for a long period of time.
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HAYES: The president announcing you`re the president announcing those tariffs today. Leo Gerard, you`re the president of the steelworkers union. I understand why this might be good for your members. What do you say to people who say it`s bad for everyone else besides union members?
LEO GERARD, PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS UNION: Look, I want to just start off by saying then -- I`m tired of hearing hypocritical comments like the one Dan just made. The fact of the matter is we`re in a damn trade war, especially with China and other countries. China is running close to $400 billion a year trade deficit in manufacturered goods. China produced $1.2 billion tons of steel and they can only consume 700 billion tons of steel. The rest of that steel is flooding the markets around the world. China has been cheating. China has been destroying jobs. So, I praise the president for taking action against China.
But let me remind you this, we have $100 billion trade deficit with South Korea. South Korea has been making our country tubular goods from steel products that were banned in America. So they`re transforming and transshipping steel. I agree with Dan that Canada is not the enemy. Canada has a balanced trade agreement with the United States, not just on steel but basically all manufactured goods.
It`s important that, as the president looks at this tariff and he said there will be more discussion, that we look at bringing justice from those countries that cheat. And he had identified 12 of them. If you need to be in business by cheating, if you need to be in business by having steel that`s dumped and subsidized in a non-competive market, then you ought not to be in it.
So, we`re very aggressive about having some justice brought to the steel industry, but not at the expense of those that are fair traders.
HAYES: OK, so I want to tease apart a few things, right, because let`s be clear here. First of all, 25 percent of imported steel, the biggest importer of steel is Canada. And I just want to be clear, Leo, you don`t think they should be hit with this tariff?
GERARD: Look it, Canada and the U.S. have the same level.
GERARD: The steel that goes back and forth across the border is about the same levels because they ship steel to Canada and make an auto part, they send that auto part back. Canada sends steel. Canada is not the issue.
The issue is China, the issue is South Korea, the issue is Mexico, the issue is those countries that don`t play by the rules.
And for Dan, of all people, to say that we`re going to get into a trade war, what the hell do you think it is when we have a wealth transfer of $450 to $500 billion a year to China? We`re making China a world superpower at the expense of American workers, at the expense of Canadian workers.
HAYES: I want...
GERARD: If I sound pissed off, it`s because I am.
HAYES: Well, I know. And obviously, this has been -- there`s -- let`s talk about the China cheating problem, right, which is sort of part -- there`s a smaller part of the larger problem, which is people feel like China actually has been gaming international trading rules to get a kind of protectionist advantage in these kind of things. What do you say to that?
STEPHANIE KELTON, ECONOMIST: I say that they`re probably right. I mean, there`s a legitimate case to be made that China does not engage in what we would describe in any sense of the imagination as free trade, OK.
So, I think there`s a legitimate...
HAYES: In terms of the way they subsidize industries, in terms of the way they protect from...
KELTON: Yeah, and we`re not even talking about currency manipulation or those other things. So, yes, in terms of all of those things he has got a legitimate beef.
I would just say that there are other ways to protect American jobs. Start by looking at income inequality, wage stagnation, maintaining a healthy, robust U.S. economy is probably the best way to serve the interests of the steelworkers and other workers across this country.
I would think investing in, you know, modernizing of the U.S. infrastructure, high speed rail. There are lots of things that the Trump administration could have done to address the concerns of steelworkers and other workers in this country who are hurting without running the risk of doing the kinds of things that will hurt potentially U.S. consumers and other industry.
GERARD: With all due respect...
HAYES: Go ahead, Leo.
GERARD: ...the fact of the matter is that we`re being asked to compete against countries that cheat. Slip away from steel to aluminum for a minute. China said they`ll dominate in solar panels even if they have to sell under the cost of production. You can`t make solar panels without aluminum.
Canada is not the one that cheats. So, Canada should not get cut in this. But at the same time, we should be outraged that we`re losing jobs in this country as a result of companies that cheat, countries that cheat, and that is causing us have lost jobs. We should build all that infrastructure, but we shouldn`t build it with Chinese junk.
HAYES: I want to get...
DICKER: Leo, you have a point. He does have a point. But here is the thing, using tariffs to fix this is like taking a sledge hammer to open up a bird cage. You will get the cage open, but there may not be much bird left when you do, and this is exactly what tariffs.
GERARD: Wait. Leo, let Dan finish.
DICKER: You will create a trade war that is overt, not under the radar, but overt. Now, President Trump has taken...
GERARD: We`re now in a trade war, Dan.
DICKER: Excuse me a second, Leo. President Trump has taken what was the only kind of subtle way of getting at the Chinese, that is the TPP, and thrown that under the bus. That`s the first problem. So, it really has nothing left except this kind of sledge hammer. And the bottom line is going to be -- and this is true -- and I don`t want to be hyperbolic about this. But you do get the point where tariffs lead to trade wars, trade wars can lead to cold wars, and cold wars can, in certain circumstances, lead to hot wars. I`m trying not to be hyperbolic about this, but you will get a trade war, an overt one, from the Chinese to the Americans, and it will, in some way, impact or stress more, our institutions that are already stressed.
GERARD: With all due respect, with all due respect, how do you sit back and say that it`s OK to have a country that is continuously running about a $500 billion..
DICKER: No one says it`s OK, Leo. I`m saying that tariffs are not an answer.
GERARD: You`re justifying it. America has had five top-level meetings about steel with China in the last 15 years. When we started, China made about 500 million tons of steel. There`s been five high level meetings in those 15 years. At each one of those meetings, China promised to reduce their consumption so that there would be market forces. And what did they do? They went from 500 million tons to 1.2 billion tons. And you`re telling me that American workers ought to turn their back on that and say, well, yeah, we`ll go build a high speed rail. And we`ll build a high speed rail, damnit, with Chinese rail and Chinese cars?
Stand up for american workers. Stand up for fair trade.
HAYES: But there`s also a question, right, of -- Stephanie, there`s also people that consume this deal, right. So, Leo, from your perspective, I get that entirely, right?
GERARD: Dan, the steel is being dumped in the American market. American steelworkers, our members, can make...
DICKER: 200,000 people make steel in the united states. There are 7 million people who need steel in order to make what they make what they make, to make cars, to make automobiles, to make our planes, to make bridges, to make tools, all of that requires steel to be made. And what will happen is the costs of that steel will go up to such a degree that you will lose more jobs than you will save by using these tariffs.
GERARD: To quote Joe Biden, that`s malarkey. The fact of the matter is -- let me give you a whole bunch of examples. They tried to build the bridge from San Francisco to Oakland with Chinese steel. It had to go back three times because it wouldn`t hold the weld. But it was the lowest price.
What you`re trying to say to us is that the people who make steel at the lowest man hours per ton should accept that China has a right to dump its steel into our market, has a right to dump its aluminum into our market, at lower than the cost of production, and that, we should just suck it up and eat it up. You`re wrong. And the steelworkers are going to fight for our members, we`re going to fight for a job, and we`re going to fight for fair trade. And we`re going to fight for those that cheat, get frozen out of this market if that`s what it takes, for a lousy 25 percent duty. Stop the cheating.
If they don`t want the duty, stop the damn cheating.
HAYES: All right, Stephanie Kelton, Dan Dicker, and Leo Gerard, thank you so much. That is All In for this evening.
The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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