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Mueller examining whether Kushner shaped policy. TRANSCRIPT: 03/02/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Tara Dowdell, Michelle Goldberg, Josh Barro, Nick Confessore, Ed McMullin, Ryan Grim, Harry Litman, Francesca Chambers, Jennifer Rubin

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: March 2, 2018 Guest: Tara Dowdell, Michelle Goldberg, Josh Barro, Nick Confessore, Ed McMullin, Ryan Grim, Harry Litman, Francesca Chambers, Jennifer Rubin



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jared has done an outstanding job.

HAYES: Another NBC News exclusive.


HAYES: The Mueller probe is now investigating whether or not the President`s son-in-law is using American foreign policy to benefit his own company.

TRUMP: Jared is a very successful real estate person.

HAYES: Tonight, why Jared Kushner may be in trouble like never before and what did the President know and when did he know it? Plus, the story behind the unglued president and his impulsive decision to start a trade war, incredible new deception from the White House Chief of Staff on his handling of a domestic abuse scandal and the massive popular uprising in deep red Trump country.

When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. It would be one thing if Jared Kushner used his position at the White House to benefit his family real estate business. That would be bad. I mean, that`s your standard run-of-the-mill style corruption. Again, really bad, a big deal scandal if true, but also, the kind of thing you`ve heard about before, maybe in a state or local government. OK, but it would be another thing entirely if Jared Kushner actually shaped American foreign policy to punish countries for turning down deals with his business at the expense of U.S. interest. And that is exactly what Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to figure out according to a new exclusive from NBC News.

Mueller`s team has asked witnesses about Kushner`s efforts to secure financing for his family`s real estate properties focusing specifically on his discussions during the transition with individuals from Qatar and Turkey as well as Russia, China, and the United Arab Emirates. Kushner Company, the family business has struggled to refinance its flagship property at 666, I`m not making that up, 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan which is facing roughly $1.4 billion in debt, due a year from now, the clock is ticking. And Kushners have been looking to foreign sources to try and pay it off. We already know from the intercept that Kushner before going to the White House had tried and failed to get a bailout from the former Prime Minister of Qatar.

Now, Mueller`s investigators are examining those talks according to NBC News taking specific interest in a meeting at Trump Tower between the then President-Elect son-in-law and the former Qatari Prime Minister back in December 2016 during the transition. It turns out that failed deal was not the end of the Kushner family`s efforts to secure that Qatari money.

Today, the Intercept broke the news that Kushner companies went on to seek funds directly from the Qatari government last April. Jared`s father, Charles, meeting with the country`s Finance Minister here in New York to convince him to invest in Fifth Avenue Building. The deal fell through, get this, and then just a few weeks later after the deal was rejected, after the Qatari government declines to invest in the Kushner family business, this happens.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We turn out of the diplomatic crisis erupting in the Middle East. Five nations cutting ties with Qatar accusing that country of supporting terror. And though Qatar is a key U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS, today President Trump appeared to side with its accusers.


MELBER: Catch that? Last June, Saudi Arabia and the UAE organized a blockade of Qatar, an important ally that hosts the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, the hub of American air power in the region. Now, the Secretaries of State and Defense set to work trying to defuse this situation but then the President of the United States appeared to not get the memo publicly siding against Qatar.


TRUMP: -- unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level. For Qatar, we want you back among the unity of responsible nations. We ask Qatar and other nations in the region to do more and do it faster.


HAYES: At the time reports suggested Jared Kushner may have been behind those very remarks. At least that was how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, remember, Tillerson was trying to put out the fire. Right, he`s got different U.S. allies going apparently to a kind of cold war with each but Rex put two and two together, a close associate totally American conservative and concluded this absolutely vacuous kid was running a second foreign policy out of the White House family quarters. We now know Tillerson wasn`t alone in faulting Kushner four crisis.

Four sources tell NBC News the Qatari government officials visiting the U.S. in late January and early February considered turning over to Mueller what they believe is evidence of efforts by their country`s Persian Gulf neighbors in coordination with Jared Kushner to hurt their country. Carol Lee is an NBC News Political Reporter, part of the team that broke that story, Ryan Grim is Washington Bureau Chief with Intercept, one of two bylines on that big scoop in that publication and I`ll start with you. What do we know about what Mueller is asking about?

CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: What he`s asking about is whether questions along the lines of figuring out if there was any link between Kushner`s discussions with foreigners during the transition to White House policy. It involves as you nicely laid out, Qatar and other countries. The second thing that we learned that`s very significant is that Mueller`s office has reached out to foreign nationals which expands the universe of witnesses that we kind of thought he might be talking to in specifically he`s reached out to the FBI (INAUDIBLE) in Ankara and in Turkey and to see if he could connect him with foreign nationals. That`s significant.

HAYES: That`s -- yes.

LEE: And the fact that the Qatari government officials have decided for now not to go and talk to Mueller is interesting specifically because they wrestled with this for days while they were here on this visit and as our sources were telling us that they felt like you know, things were going well. They had discussions with Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense and others and they didn`t want to do anything that might jeopardize that.

HAYES: That -- by the way, that part of the story blew my mind because here you have -- I mean, here you see the problem with the conflict, right? I mean, it flows in many directions and Ryan, what was so important about your piece and coordination in sort of put together the NBC News piece is Carol is describing right there this conflict. There`s these parallel of things that Jared Kushner is doing.

We know his family is looking for various sources of foreign money to inject into a cash-starved property. We also know Jared Kushner is running a lot of foreign policy. Your story says basically gets the two as close together as you can possibly imagine. They ask the Qataris for money, two weeks later, the Qatari says no, and then the full force of the U.S. government seems to be slammed down on Qatar. How involved was Kushner in that?

RYAN GRIM IS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, INTERCEPT: Well, he was extremely involved in the policy. I mean, without Kushner, we might not have the blockade. And just so people know, this blockade is on-going. You know, this -- it is fading, they`re losing -- I think they lost Chad the other day but you know, but Saudi Arabia and the UAE are still blockading this country. They`re trying to prevent you know, food can`t go in through certain channels and this cold war, very nearly became a hot war. You know, there are reports that the Emirates considered actually you know, invading with the mercenary force Qatar as this entire thing unfolded.

And it`s not all just silliness either. The Yemen crisis and the humanitarian disaster going on there is tied into this because it`s kind of the way the politics play out there. Saudi cares more about the Yemen war and the UAE cares more about Qatar and so there`s sort of a quid pro quo going there like Saudi will help UAE going after Qatar, the UAE helps Saudi go after Yemen. So facilitating this entire thing has help you know, explode a color of epidemic and mass starvation Yemen while we`re at it.

HAYES: Yes, and Jared Kushner again, is at the center of this. We have two pieces of information here. Kushner goes to Saudi in 2017 in October. Days before the head of the Saudi government essentially purges a whole bunch of Saudi oligarchs which depending on your point of view was some brave stand for reform or just a ruthless game of thrones move. David Ignatius reporting that Jared Mohammed Bin Salman, that`s the man you see there had kind of a slumber party. The two princes said to have stayed up until nearly 4:00 a.m. several nights swapping stories, planning strategy. This is Kushner at the center of the kinds of policy in the Middle East that is very dangerous and very high stakes that your -- that happens after one of the parties to this rejects an offer to put money into his business.

GRIM: Right. And there are federal laws implicated here. You cannot advise on a policy if the policy, you know, knowingly is going to benefit you. He still owns this -- a huge stake in his family company whose entire fortune is kind of tied to whether or not this 666 property collapses because you know, these real estate companies are cross-collateralized and Steve Bannon has even kind of gloated about this in Michael Wolf`s book that if that property goes down, he says everything else goes down with it. So the entire family fortune is riding on this and he`s -- and he`s setting foreign policy in the Middle East while his family`s company is trying to extract money to save him. You know, there are absolutely federal laws implicated there.

HAYES: Has -- am I wrong that Kushner has not come before Mueller yet?

LEE: He spoke to him, what we know.

HAYES: Right. Yes, that`s right.

LEE: What we know is he did speak to Mueller`s team briefly right before the Flynn deal was announced.


LEE: He went to have conversations, that, but that`s, as far as we know, that`s it.

HAYES: I would imagine, I don`t know what your White House reporting says but there must be some nervousness about Jared Kushner.

LEE: Yes, yes, there is. And you know, people, not just people who are in the White House and working with Kushner but people who are working with him saying that he seems to be rattled this week.

HAYES: Carol Lee and Ryan Grim, phenomenal reporting today, really remarkable, these two stories in the way they sort of complement each other in terms of getting a clear picture of what`s going on. Thank you, both.

LEE: Thank you.

GRIM: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: For more on the stakes for Jared Kushner, I`m joined by former Federal Prosecutor Harry Litman and Ned Price, former National Security Council Spokesperson under President Obama, now an MSNBC National Security Analyst. And Harry, I`ll start with you. Jumping off a point Ryan just made, are there any federal laws implicated here?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: A whole range of them. What Ryan was talking about is our ethics laws that apply to executive branch officials. And those you know -- let`s say the minimum here, at a minimum, this stinks to high heaven. It`s crazy that we can even ask the questions that Ryan and Carol`s reporting provokes. Is he`s using his office to settle scores or exploit financial gain? Is he being played for a patsy? Is he subject to blackmail? All of those means it`s not in the interest of United States for Jared Kushner to have this kind of roving commission that he`s had.

But there are a series of criminal laws as well that this could implicate. One is just good old-fashioned bribery, and -- but it`s going to be a little bit hard to prove that after the McDonald case but there`s one more I wanted to mention. I don`t want to hog the air waves but your point that he hasn`t been interviewed I think is a huge one because there`s no way to do the obstruction case without --he`s everywhere in the obstruction case, Chris.

HAYES: Right.

LITMAN: And the fact that he hasn`t been interviewed, to me -- you have to interview him before you start to negotiate with Trump and the fact that he hasn`t suggests to me that his lawyer has told Mueller`s team that he won`t talk to them. He will instead plead the Fifth Amendment because otherwise, we would have heard about his interactions with them.

HAYES: There has been, as Carol Lee notice, you know, there`s a brief conversation with some of his investigators but nothing like the kind of --

LITMAN: That`s in November.

HAYES: Right, nothing long-term like we`ve seen in other players in this. Ned, let me --I`ll give a kind of best-case scenario and get your response. So I guess, the best case scenario is, look, the U.S. is a strong partnership with Saudi Arabia and thinks Mohammed Bin Salman is the best thing in the world and Qataris aren`t cracking down on terrorism and they`re part of this rising arc of Shia power that`s projecting across the region and threatening our allies, and so this is a perfectly on the merit substantively correct thing for Kushner to get involved in and get involved in on the side of the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis. What do you say to that?

NED PRICE, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Chris, I think the thing that we`re forgetting in this conversation is that Qatar is home to Al Udeid Air Base, an air base that hosts more than 10,000 U.S. service members. And Qatar being a crucial member of our counter-ISIL coalition, a country that has taken part in that and a country that by the way reportedly has helped us free hostages from ISIL and other al-Qaeda affiliates. And when you talk about Qatar in relation to Saudi Arabia in it`s a mix of counter-terrorism partners, let`s be clear, that Saudi Arabia also does not have clean hands when it comes to counterterrorism. So it`s sort of hard to parse the two. In my mind, the best case scenario here is this was you were saying at the beginning, this was run-of-the-mill corruption.

This was just something that was purely unethical, may be even illegal but wasn`t more than that. I think worst case here, what we look at is a policy move that was dictated not by our national interests but Jared Kushner`s personal interests and the implications of that being that our own national security was jeopardized. We were for a few days at war, rhetorical war at least, with a key ally that hosts thousands of U.S. troops. Fortunately, Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis were able to inject themselves into this strange brew of Jared Kushner and Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. But had it not been for that, those service members could have been in grave jeopardy.

HAYES: And not only that, Harry, I mean, there`s an expanded -- Ned, let me follow up with you and then I`ll come back to you Harry. But Ned, there`s a sort of expanded aperture, right? When you widen it out, it -- this is one example where the reporting indicates there`s a sort of chronological tightness between Charles Kushner saying, Qataris, please bail us out with a big loan because we`re in control. No. OK, well, then we`re now at war with you. But you`ve got -- you`ve got Turkish money, you`ve got the Russians. We know you met with the head of a sanctioned bank during the transition. There are other places in which him running a parallel important foreign policy while also seeking foreign dollars raises a lot of questions.

PRICE: Absolutely. And you`re exactly right here that there is a temporal circumstantial case here. We`re able to see that in May, Donald Trump went over to Saudi Arabia the month before this deal with the Qataris apparently fell apart and then in June, Donald Trump issued these tweets condemning Qatar. It`s a very sequential process here. But I think you know, if you go back to the transition, remember that Donald Trump along with his son- in-law, Jared Kushner, took a call from the Taiwanese President and both of them called into question, the U.S. adherence to the one-China policy.

Then Jared Kushner, a week after the election, met with the head of one of the largest Chinese banks Anbang bank and discussed a $400 million loan for his company. And all of the sudden, once again the trump administration is backing the one China policy. There are other instances of that where the case is a little bit more circumstantial and we don`t have this coincidence of sequencing but I think it`s all there if you read through the lines.

HAYES: HARRY, is there precedent for this? Is there precedent for someone like Jared Kushner running around with the exposure he has?

LITMAN: Wow. So let`s see. I mean, we certainly have had situations like this. You know, offhand, I think of John Connally during the Nixon administration but basically, this is the most tangled web I`ve ever encountered. I think what Ned says is right. This is the very best scenario and just that we`re asking these questions, it`s nuts. It is nuts that he`s conducting this roving foreign policy for the United States when there`s so many points of vulnerability. It`s just -- it`s beyond the pale.

HAYES: Harry Litman and Ned Price, thank you for your time tonight.

PRICE: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, the White House domestic abuse scandal takes another turn as the Chief of Staff advances yet another story that is provably false. We`ll tell you what John Kelly is trying to sell this time in two minutes.


HAYES: Turning to an impromptu off the record conversation with reporters of the White House today, Chief of Staff John Kelly suddenly went on the record with yet another version of what he knew and when about former White House Staff Secretary and accused spouse abuser Rob Porter. "The first I heard of a serious accusation against him was on the sixth of February. The accusation was late in the afternoon, and it was simply one of his two former wives that claimed she had some level of emotional abuse.

He says, he didn`t learn the physical abuse until the second story broke." But the daily who broke that story said that`s false. "February 6, 4:40 p.m. Daily Mail approaches the White House with detailed allegations of emotional and physical abuse against Rob Porter, made in an interview by Jennifer Willoughby, his ex-second wife. One of those Daily Mail Reporters, Francesca Chambers joins me now. Francesca, what is your case that John Kelly is not being truthful when he says that he was not told about physical abuse?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, DAILY MAIL: So the Daily Mail was very clear in its original account to the White House that it was, in fact, physical abuse, that the wife was alleging against Rob Porter, so it seems that there might be some sort of a disconnect between the press office and perhaps what John Kelly was told, if he`s saying that he didn`t know that there was physical abuse and it was just emotional abuse.

There seems to be a disconnect between the White House press office and John Kelly overall because if I could flash forward to the next day on Wednesday, John Kelly is saying that he told Rob Porter it was time to go on Tuesday evening but on Wednesday at the White House press briefing, after 1:30 p.m., Sarah Sanders gets up at the podium, reads Rob Porter`s resignation and says that he`s not even leaving anytime soon. There will be a transition period of some sort. So those two things don`t really jive, especially because the White House also right before the press briefing brought in several other reporters and allowed Porter to essentially tell his side of the story.

HAYES: That`s right. And not only that, Jon Kelly puts out a statement testifying to Rob Porter`s great character after you broke your story in which Jennifer Willoughby said she was dragged naked out of a shower and then the next morning, when there`s a picture of a bruised eye, a black and blue eye of his first wife, the White House said John Kelly stands by his original statement, correct?

CHAMBERS: That`s correct. He did not change his statement at all until that evening. It`s roughly 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday that the White House even updated John Kelly`s statement about Rob Porter. And even then, he said, this isn`t the man that I knew him to be whatsoever. So it`s not as if anywhere and there the White House or John Kelly has said, no, I told him, he has to go. He -- you know, he was fired. They were maintaining that he resigned and he left on his own terms.

HAYES: I want to bring in Washington Post Jennifer Ruben into this conversation. Jennifer, what is going on here?

JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: You got me. Listen, I think John Kelly is a lot of trouble. He`s engaged in this death match with Jared Kushner and Ivanka. Clearly, the President is very upset. He`s so upset he probably started a trade war because he`s so upset with John Kelly. And so, I think everyone is just covering their rear ends here. And it`s just inconceivable (INAUDIBLE) not only that he didn`t know as Francesca said until the 6th but for an entire year, he had no press clearance.

Now, John Kelly came in the summer. Apparently, he was told in the fall, somebody was told in the fall that he wasn`t going to be getting his clearance. So was John Kelly not told about that? Does he not know? Has he not told details? None of this really hangs together. And I think it`s really reflective of the fact that John Kelly is on thin ice, that he felt compelled to go back to the well, where like five or six scandals passed that already but to go back and try to clean that up.

HAYES: So here`s Jennifer Willoughby responding. Francesca, I want to get your response to this. She says, he didn`t feel Rob should resign until he was accused of physical abuse. That is disturbing. I had filed a protective order, called the police on several occasions, detailed being pulled naked from the shower. But General Kelly did not consider that abuse as terrifying to me. There`s a substantive point here over and above the line which is what John Kelly understands as fireable or disqualifying for the White House, right?

CHAMBERS: Well, and again, he`s saying that he was only aware that it was emotional abuse at first, that it was some sort of a messy divorce, but I just cannot stress enough that the Daily Mail told the White House press office that it was domestic violence, that it was physical abuse and went through the allegations from Rob Porter`s ex-wife. So certainly, the press office was aware of exactly what would be running in the Daily Mail.

HAYES: He said today, Jennifer, I have nothing, absolutely nothing -- this is John Kelly, I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over. We didn`t cover ourselves in glory in terms of how we handled that on Wednesday morning. It was confusing.

RUBIN: Yes, well, sounds to be confusing for the Chief of Staff. I think that`s the problem. You know, he says lots of things have not been going as he would have liked them. The same thing with clearances in general. He`s said too many people had them. Well, whose job was that? That was his job. So there`s a disturbing pattern in this administration that people in charge tend to be spectators in their own administration.

He is in charge of that White House. If he didn`t know, why didn`t he know? So I think, this is, you know, frankly I`m stunned that they`re going back to this. They could be arguing about many other things, as many other things have transpired but this must have obviously stuck in his craw and stuck in the President`s craw and that`s why he`s going back to it again and again.

HAYES: Jennifer Rubin and Francesca Chambers, it`s a great reporting to break that story initially. Thank you, both.


HAYES: Coming up, exclusive reporting from NBC News the President launched his unplanned trade war because he was furious about the news cycle. The story behind the "unglued President" in two minutes.


HAYES: One of the many questions we still had after the President`s tariff announcement yesterday was what exactly prompted such a sudden decision? Well, tonight, thanks to an NBC News exclusive report, we might have an answer. According to two officials, Trump`s decision to launch a potential trade war was born out of anger at other issues simmering issues. Gary Cohen, President Donald Trump`s top Economic Adviser and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to talk him out of it but on Wednesday evening the President became unglued in the words of one official familiar with the President`s state of mind and spurred on by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

NBC reports Trump was -- come on, you can`t just put that up there while I`m reading -- Trump was angry and gunning for a fight and he chose a trade war. Stephanie Ruhle is one of the reporters who broke that news. She joins me here along with Nick Confessore of the New York Times and former 2016 Presidential Candidate Evan McMullin. Tell us what your reporting indicates about the mood inside the White House that pushed the President towards the decision?

STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Bad day for Donald Trump. Hope Hicks leaving, very angry about John Kelly downgrading Jared Kushner`s security clearance and we know he wasn`t happy with Jeff Sessions that day. President Trump was not in a good state and also remember, he`s without Rob Porter who did serve as sort of a filter. So Wilbur Ross makes his way in and you know, President Trump has had these views on trade as has Wilbur Ross for quite some time. But it`s really just been Wilbur Ross and his sidekick Peter Navarro trying to push this initiative. So he rocks up, no one else in the White House, not John Kelly, not the Defense Department, the State Department, the Treasury Department.

No one knows about this and Wilbur Ross schedules a meeting 11:00 Thursday with CEOs of steel companies and doesn`t want anybody know who they are. So nobody has security clearance, nobody has been vetted, now, the White House has since said, well, these were people who have most likely been here before. We probably knew them. Yet no one knew their name. There was no legislative plan to tell Congress. There was no diplomatic plan to tell other countries, other allies and the White House Council`s Office was doing a review of possible tariffs on steel that`s not going to be done for another two weeks. This came out of absolutely nowhere.

HAYES: So there`s a sort of -- there`s a substance and a process question. So, put the substance to the side. We debated this in a fascinating debate last night about this with Leo Gerard and the steel workers and Dan Dicker and Stephanie Kelton, but process-wise, like, this is really far afield of how something like this would normally work, right?

MCMULLIN: Well, absolutely. I mean, you would consider a policy change like this very judiciously. You would engage all sorts of stakeholders in the government and outside of the government. It would take time. You would have a plan to roll it out. There would be an engagement period, even before you did that with the public likely. But this is the thing, it really makes me wonder, I mean, not wonder so much, just be concerned that if the president is willing to take action like this and knock 500 points off the DOW in one fell swoop, when he`s worried about other things or angry at other things, what else is he willing to do when the net sort of tightens, the Mueller net tightens around him? So, you know, I think we`ll see more.

CONFESSORE: That`s what I was saying, you know, it`s preferable to an actual war, having a trade war, for now.

HAYES: If this is what blows off the steam, better to slap tariffs on aluminum.

CONFESSORE: You know, or fire an AK behind the White House lawn or whatever. But, look, there is no policy process, per se, in the White House. There is a process of constraining the president at all times from things he wants to do. And to be honest, on this one, we knew he wanted to do that and his own staff was running around trying to slow roll him for a year. Who should be surprised that he finally said, guys, I`m the president. I want this.

RUHLE: He was surprised when the market dropped and when Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn and the rest of them (inaudible) up and he`s going what is the market doing like this? And it was actually General Kelly who, you don`t hear sort of defending the New York bankers often, who said to the president, these guys told you over and over, this was going to happen, sir.

HAYES: You know, there`s also this question about like the policy making process when you think about foreign policy and war, right? So this really has me worried. I have to genuinely say. Like the president of the United States has incredible unilateral military power given to him year over year, the AUMF that we passed after September 11, that allows us to wage global war without congressional authorization anywhere in the world at any time for any reason.

Here`s something that caught my eye last week. The Pentagon is secretly planning for war a with North Korea last week. OK, fine, Pentagon plans for everything. Table top exercise. War planning that was table top exercise was held over several days in Hawaii. They looked at a number of pitfalls that (inaudible) an American assault on North Korea`s well entrenched military.

Among them was the Pentagon`s limited ability to evacuate injured troops in the Korean peninsula daily. There`s also the 2,000 casualties we can expect in possibly the first day of fighting. is this something you worry about?

MCMULLIN: Yes. And let me say this. Let me temper this a little bit. I do hope that not because Trump is so reasonable, but because he does have some reasonable national security people around him, that if he gave an order to do something that didn`t need to be done, they would stop it or that was so horrible.

HAYES: Wait a second though. Wait a second. I want to stop you there. It`s the United States. He`s the president of the United States. If he gives a lawful order.

MCMULLIN: Just let me finish. What I`m worried about is on the margins, because there are all of these decisions that you make as president about national security and using the military where you could exercise restraint or you could do it, and those are the hard decisions. Those are the hard decisions that presidents make. There are a lot of them all the time. What happens on the margins?

So something that -- where we could take action, but we don`t have to, there may be other options but it`s justifiable kind of to do it and you could explain it. That`s what I`m worried about.

RUHLE: Chris Hayes, also, history has shown, kind of all talk, right? I mean, even this. Now he`s pushed this off a week. So what are you going to see happen in the White House? They`re going to scramble and try to get him to swallow this and not do it.

Bullies talk a big game and point their -- and push you in the chest with their finger, but how many of them actually take a swing? Have you seen President Trump actually take a swing that often? On Twitter, great, come get me.

HAYES: Yes, I had a basketball coach who called it down the block tough, you know, which is like, you`re down the block and it`s like -- yeah, right.

But -- and that`s totally true. I mean, he can`t even fire people, which is the grand irony. The guy who ran the show -- you`re fired, right -- can`t fire people in person.

But there is this question, Nick, of like, these two things happening, right, the people falling away, going away, his sort rocks -- a Keith Sshiller, his bodyguard, is not there anymore and he`s still getting paid. Hope Hicks, not there anymore. Jared Kushner is in a lot of trouble it looks like, et cetera. And the Mueller probe closing in. And really like this question about whether the unpredictability ratchets up.

CONFESSORE: Look, he is the first president we`ve had in a very long time, or ever, who does things because he`s mad or does things policy-wise despite his own staff, or because he`s in a bad mood. And we know this from the excellent reporting from in the White House, from The Post and "The New York Times" and from NBC, he does it a lot. And he`s losing the bulwark around him, the emotional support people that he`s had in the White House, who keep him from having these jags. So who knows what`s going to happen?

MCMULLIN: And this is why it`s hard -- to jump in here, Chris -- that -- this is why I find this Jared Kushner and Ivanka -- Javanka, if you will -- story so interesting, because they are his security blanket, that`s why I think in the end they`re not going anywhere. But if they were to leave the Whiet House, and he no longer has that security blanket and all of this other stuff is happening, then I think we have plenty to worry about.

HAYES: One last thing, Bloomberg headline today. Trump`s swaps beloved burgers for salads and soups in the new diet, which can make -- having gone through periods like that -- can make you cranky. But it really bone chilling to imagine what that could produce.

Stephanie Ruhle, Nick Confessore, Ed McMullin, thanks for joining us.

All right, still ahead, why the NRA boycott is having more of an effect with companies than with politicians. I`ll explain ahead. Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, the Trump administration and interior secretary Ryan Zinke did something that had never, ever literally been done before. They`ve reduced lands that had previously been designated National Monuments by prior presidents. One was called Bear`s Ears National Monument in Utah, which they reduced by staggering 85 percent. Now, before that when Ryan Zinke rode around on a horse at Bear`s Ears last summer, he said the review process was about preservation, not oil drilling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, should this be preserved?

RYAN ZINKE, INTERIOR SECRETARY: You know what? Yes, of course, the legacy and what I`ve seen should be preserved. The issue is whether the monument is the right vehicle or not the right vehicle. What vehicle of public land is appropriate to preserve? What I`ve seen should be preserved, the cultural identity to make sure the tribes have a voice and make sure you protect the traditions of hunting and fishing and public access. And we also have a pretty good idea of certainly the oil and gas potential. Not much. So Bear`s Ears isn`t really about oil and gas at all.


HAYES: At all. It`s not about oil and gas at all. Wouldn`t it be absolutely galling if the opposite were true, if it was all about oil and gas? That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.



ZINKE: We also have a pretty good idea of certainly the oil and gas potential. Not much. So Bear`s Ears isn`t really about oil and gas at all.


HAYES: That was Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, saying, and I quote him again, Bear`s Ears isn`t really about oil and gas at all.

So of course, today, "The New York Times" reports oil was central in the decision to shrink Bear`s Ears monument, according to internal agency emails. From the start of the Interior Department review process, agency officials directed staff to figure out how much coal, oil, and natural gas had been put essentially off limits.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch`s office emailed a map with oil and gas sites at Bear`s Ears. The map that Mr. Hatch`s office provided was incorporated in almost exactly into the much larger reductions.

Last month, that land opened for new mining and drilling leases.


ZINKE: I`m actually optimistic. At the end of the day we`ll make a recommendation that I think will be best for our country and best for preservation.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going on is everyone in America is seeing how the working class citizens are being treated in West Virginia. It`s time for us to stop looking past the faces of those who are important and focusing on the top one percent. It`s time to turn the table ladies and gentlemen.


HAYES: There is something absolutely wild happening right now in West Virginia. That scene, you just saw, is from the capital building in Charleston where teachers, now on their seventh day of a wildcat unauthorized strike, are giving a warm welcome to a supporter who`s come to visit. That supporter, the man you saw talking is Democratic State Senator named Richard O`Jetta, a tattooed tough talking army vet running for Congress who has become something of a celebrity in the movement.

And all of this happening in one of the most conservative states in the union. Remember, this is heart of coal country. This is where we held a town hall to talk to voters in Trump country. This is where the Democratic governor announced he was switching to the Republican Party with Donald Trump by his side. And this, this is the place where 20,000 teachers from every single last one of the last 55 counties in the state are engaged in a week-long grassroots strike over their salaries and crucially rising insurance premiums.

And those teachers, who live in a state that spent years cutting taxes over and over for businesses and watching its revenue shrink, and people whose pay ranks 48th in the entire nation, those teachers are still taking tear of their students while their schools are closed.

They have pooled their own money to host free lunches and hand out bags of food, making sure the 67 percent, 67 percent, of West Virginia kids who qualify for free or reduced price meal at school, are still getting fed.

Now, we don`t know how much longer the strike will go on. The governor announced a plan to raise salaries by 5 percent earlier this week, but teachers said, no, they are holding out. They are on strike to fix the state health insurance plan, which they says it`s too expensive. We do know that this kind of thing we are seeing is very rare. Strikes almost basically never happen anymore in America. And strikes like this pulled off by workers who do not even have collective bargaining rights in their own state, those are nearly unheard of recently.

It`s really a testament to the turbulence of the political moment we live in that whole new vistas of mass action are certainly coming into view and I would venture that there is yet more over the horizon.



MICHAEL WILLIAMS, GEORGIA LAWMAKER: We took it as a slap in the face by Delta. And that people here in Georgia, they love our country, they love our constitution, and they love our second amendment. And we have to, again, represent the people here in Georgia and not corporate interests.


HAYES: When Delta Airlines announced it was ending a discount program for NRA members, Georgia politicians threatened to retaliate. Today, the governor signed a bill that made good on that threat, killing a proposed break for jet fuel sales that would benefited Delta, one of the state`s largest, most iconic employers, even though, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, only 13 tickets were sold under the group travel discount for the NRA.

I want to bring in New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg who astutely observed right here a few days ago the political and consumer rest in very different places in this country, along with Josh Barro who argued this week in Business Insider that companies are taking more left-leaning stances to please their customers; and Democratic strategist Tara Dowdell, who is an expert in marketing and communications.

And I want to return to that point you made. It`s been so fascinating post-Parkland to watch this play out in which political power in this country is tilted towards older, more conservative, particularly rural Americans, consumer power in this country, the things that brands care about, the kinds of people they`re trying to get to be customers are younger, more diverse and more urban and nothing has been more clear about that than what politicians are doing post Parkland and what --

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEW YORK TIMES: Right. And the polarization sort of feeds on itself, right, because I actually don`t think that the natural place to turn to for gun control is big corporations but --

HAYES: I agree. Yes, that`s not the solution.

DOWDELL: But people are making it a consumer issue because they are completely shut out of the process, you know, because the NRA has such a lock on our government despite the wishes of the majority of the people, that people are then forced to turn to whatever avenues of influence are open to them, which in this case is their sort of consumer power, it`s not ideal. And then it creates a situation where gun owners feel even more cultural embattled because they feel like even Walmart and Kroger`s are turning on them.

HAYES: That`s right. And then the culture war is everywhere.

JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: Right. And I think it`s interesting in part because, you know, you say the 13 tickets thing with Delta, it reflects how symbolic so much of this stuff is. It`s not like Delta is getting out of a lucrative line of business here, whereas you know compared to FedEx, which has been resistant to making changes, because FedEx is in the business of shipping things related to guns.


BARRO: And so if they want to take a stand, that would have significant business costs. Now that said --

HAYES: Dick`s Sporting Goods.

BARRO: Dick Sporting Goods and Walmart and Kroger`s are taking some steps that now even that, though, there`s a certain symbolism, because what fraction of the gun sales are really to people aged between 18 and 20?

HAYES: Dicks actually -- someone publicized today their estimates. It was in the millions, right. Millions of dollars in sales. So, it`s not nothing. It`s not a huge part of their sells, but it`s not nothing. It`s somewhere between 13 tickets being sold.

GOLDBERG: But it`s also self protective, right? I mean, Dick`s, they said that they -- as soon as they saw the shooting, they went through their own records to find out if Cruz had ever bought a gun from them and they found out that, of course, he did, although it wasn`t the gun that he used in this massacre.

So, there is also an element of we don`t want to be the company that sells the next shooter his AR-15.

TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I agree with that 100 percent, because there is a reason they went through that exercise because imagine the PR risk if you are the company that sold that and there is increasing pressure, remember, before this even started, there had been pressure on teachers` unions with the pension funds, pressure on groups that are typically left leaning groups that also invest.

HAYES: Right, to use that money.

DOWDELL: -- money, and that started with other issues before this issue, but now with this issue being elevated in the way that it has been by the youth, now that targeting is happening and you`ve seen Black Rock come out, Black Rock, the mega investment company, come out and say that they are putting pressure now on gun retailers to make changes and that matters.

HAYES: And then you`ve got this -- what is also fascinating is the knock- on effect, which you`re seeing in Georgia, right, where Republicans are like, well, screw you Delta, which is a big -- by the way, I`m not sure that the jet tax was good policy, anyway. I suspect it probably wasn`t, like their jet tax cut for Delta. So, you know, who cares about that.

But it then reinforces, right -- to Michelle`s point -- it reinforces the sense of cultural persecution. It`s like everyone is out to get us. Everyone hates gun owners of America, and we are a raid against the total forces of both corporate America and sort of the cultural echelon.

BARRO: It`s remarkable to me how much of a reaction Delta`s action, some of the others, is drawing from both sides of this. I mean, I`ve seen several of my friends post a Facebook about how proud they are to fly Delta in the wake of this. And I think, you know, as we`ve seen a retreat of certain other social institutions. People don`t go to church as most, they`re less likely to serve in the military, one of the things that what draws us together is corporations and brands.

HAYES: It`s depressing.

BARRO: Well, on some level, but people seem to get real joy out of it. People identify. I mean, like Lacroix water. People talk about it --

HAYES: Lacroix is different. Lacroix is a way of life.


BARRO: OK, well, see there you go. But so I think, you know, for some people, you know, people say like I`m a Delta person.

HAYES: Right.

BARRO: And they say that in an un-ironic way. And so when you identify that with a brand it almost starts to make sense to expect a brand to express your political value.

HAYES: There`s also something -- Ross Douthat wrote an interesting column in The Times basically saying there is something very cynical at play here. He called it the rise of woke capital, which I thought was sort of a funny idea.

He said corporate activism on social issues is an intention with corporate self-interest on tax policy and corporate stinginess in paychecks, rather the activism increasingly exists to protect the self-interest and the stinginess to justify the ways of CEOs to cultural power brokers so that those same brokers will leave them alone in realms that matter more to the corporate bottom line.

DOWDELL: Exactly. And what realm matters the most are tax cuts and favorable policies -- tax breaks, incentives, all of that matters most.

And they are not going to make any concussions on that.

HAYES: No. They are not going to the wall on that.

DOWDELL: They are going to lobby and fight for that so when they can make these concessions in these other areas -- I mean, the notion that this is altruism, it`s just not. It`s not altruism. Will activists take it? Yes, we`ll take it. But it`s not altruism.

BARRO: Yeah, I was skeptical about how much this is going to work in general, although just two hours ago on this network, I saw a panelist on Ari Melber`s program, saying you know you don`t mess with Delta. If Delta wants a tax break, you give it to them. And so, you know, to the extent that they are succeeding in getting people on national television saying that, maybe the woke capital thing is working.

HAYES: And there is also this generational issue, which I keep coming back to. I mean, there is a generational divide in political preference that`s opened up that`s really quite unprecedented. It usually is not the case that there is such a wide divide between young voters and older voters.

GOLDBERG: And not just partisanship, on guns specifically, right. I mean, you have kind of an older generation where it is the norm to have a gun in the house, and you have a younger generation where it`s just increasingly not, it`s an increasingly foreign way of life. And so it doesn`t have any sort of symbolic value.

BARRO: Yeah, I`ve seen some data, it`s hard to find really reliable numbers on this, but it looks like frequent travelers are somewhat more Democratic than the country as a whole and it would make sense to me that that gap would widening, especially with the sort of, you know, the globalist versus nationalist perspective. You would think that people who are more eager to travel more might be becoming more aligned with the sort of more globalist political coalition.

DOWDELL: And younger people are moving into cities. There has been -- in the past, older people moved out to the suburbs, that was your way of life, and now younger people are moving into cities and guns and cities are not ideal.

HAYES: And there is also just this fact that like these kinds of people that the political system don`t have much power in the political system, right? I mean, there are 30 U.S. senators representing states with a smaller population than Queens, OK? Right? So that`s the balance in the United States federal government.

Those same consumers, the consumers of Queens matter a lot, because there is a lot of them and they are young and they`re diverse, et cetera.

BARRO: Well, and I think also there is a lot of people on the left right now just looking for any way they can to express political power. You`re seeing that partly in the immense enthusiasm around special elections for state legislative seats drawing national attention. And so whether that`s, you know, I can vote and elect someone to my state legislature or I can pressure Delta to drop -- yeah.

HAYES: Michelle Goldberg, Josh Barro, Tara Dowdell, thanks for joining me tonight. That was great.

That is All In for this evening. See you on Monday. Have a great weekend.