Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: March 7, 2018 Guest: Elizabeth Warren, Adam Davidson, Michelle Goldberg, Joyce Vance, Barbara McQuade, Jenna Johnson, Kamala Harris
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Bobby Kennedy, A Raging Spirit. Please get on Amazon right now or Barnes and Noble, get to your local bookstore and read this book that tells so much that we believe especially now. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. And if the day ending in a "why" then we have big breaking news tonight. There`s news on the Stormy Daniels front. We`ve got Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren both joining us in the show. But we begin with the breaking news from the New York Times, and that is this. The President of the United States, Donald Trump has been talking to witnesses in the Mueller investigation. Joyce Vance and Barbara McQuade are both former Federal Prosecutors. The story here Joyce is that the President has talked to both Reince Priebus who`s been interviewed by Mueller`s team and also Don McGahn, his own White House Counsel about things they talked to Mueller about. That strikes me as a bad idea but I`m not a lawyer. What do you say?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s a terrible idea. And if I was the President`s lawyer, I would have firmly advised him to have no contact with any witnesses particularly about the topic of their conversations with Mueller and his team. So this signals to us that the President likely is a very uncontrollable client. It doesn`t really rise at least the reporting that we`ve seen about these limited conversations to any sort of new evidence of obstruction per se. It is still just not something you want to see your client doing when he`s the subject of an investigation like this.
HAYES: And Barbara, it also raises the question we have reporting about too about this is -- if the President is making a habit of this.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, and I think that one concern is, number one, what are they talking about? Is he gathering information so that he can coordinate the testimony of other witnesses or himself? And it also raises this appearance of consciousness of guilt. if you`re not guilty of anything, then have you no interest in talking with any of these folks. If you`re talking to them, it suggests a level of interest that could indicate a consciousness of guilt. So, as Joyce said, it`s just a bad idea. Any lawyer would counsel his client not to talk about it because even if there`s nothing bad going on, there is a perception that there is.
HAYES: Now, one of the people that he spoke to was Reince Priebus and according to New York Times reporting, he asked if the investigators were nice which again, there`s a lot of ways to interpret that. Joyce, you don`t think that in and of itself rises to obstruction? It seems like there`s a million different ways you can interpret that but the interpretation is precisely the reason you don`t walk to witnesses in the first place.
VANCE: Sure. That`s exactly right. And the other thing is that both Priebus and McGahn experienced folks, would have likely advised their lawyers immediately about this contact and their lawyers would have turned around and told Mueller. The question that --
HAYES: Wait, stop right there. Wait, stop right there.
HAYES: That`s interesting to me. Why?
VANCE: Well, they would have done it out of an abundance of caution. They would not have wanted Mueller down the road to learn about these conversations and conclude.
HAYES: So that they look guilty or something. Right.
VANCE: Right, exactly. And so the issue here is, did the President have similar conversations with less experienced people on his staff. For instance, with Hope Hicks who might not have the reported it to her lawyer and did he, in fact, go further in those other conversations if he had them. So this sort of -- this is an opening for further investigation as Barb says.
HAYES: Now, Barbara, the Don McGahn conversation is really something if the Times account is correct. Basically, we know from Times reporting that the President ordered and instructed Don McGahn to fire the Special Counsel. He refused and told senior officials he would resign if that were to happen or if he was forced to. When that New York Times story came out, the President then apparently confronted his own White House Counsel Don McGahn and said, I never told you to fire Mueller. You need to put a statement out rejecting that. And Don McGahn said sir, Mr. President, you did tell me to fire Mueller. What do you make of that?
MCQUADE: Yes, you know, again, I don`t know whether Trump just believes these things, the fantasy world that he lives in or if he says it enough times it makes it seem true. It is nice to see Don McGahn does push back when Trump is making these statements. But that`s the kind of way, that kind of bullying tactic that I think could be interpreted as obstruction of justice, causing people to put out false statements or intimidating people into saying things that aren`t true. That seems to be a tactic and a way of doing business for Donald Trump. I am pleased to see that Don McGahn is pushing back.
HAYES: Well, that -- you know, Joyce, my first thought about this was OK, either the President has taken leave of his faculties, he doesn`t remember a very important and monumentally memorable thing which is when you tell your White House Counsel to fire the Special Counsel currently investigating you and your campaign for possible criminal infractions or this is like -- it`s almost got kind of a you know, mafia movie thing of like you know, you didn`t -- I didn`t tell you to do that, right, right? Like, it`s hard not to interpret that a little bit that way.
VANCE: The way it`s portrayed in the reporting is that McGahn had to go back and remind him that he had asked him to fire.
HAYES: Which seems polite and diplomatic.
VANCE: You know, it doesn`t seem like something that you would forget right? It seems like I would remember if I said please fire my FBI Director. I might remember that one down the road. But at least as it`s portrayed here without more and obviously Mueller will engage in a lot more digging on actually happened here. It becomes a very interesting situation.
HAYES: We`ve got even more breaking news on the Mueller investigation tonight so I want to add that into the next here. The Washington Post reporting just moments ago the new witness that we reported on last night, that would be George Nader, again, a new character introduced to the plot, and you`re not alone if you`re scratching your head in trying to keep track of everyone. But this new witness George Nader has told investigators the January 2017 meeting he attended with Erik Prince, formerly of Blackwater and a Russian official close to Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles "was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between countries according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to the discuss sensitive matters."
So we`ve got this meeting in the Seychelles, Joyce, and Barbara, Erik Prince has reportedly given testimony in which he says it was a happenstance meeting. I just happened to be there. We happened to run into this Russian guy, we happen to have a drink at the bar and we talked about some stuff. Now you`ve got the guy who engineered the meeting being subpoenaed and apparently giving testimony, no, no, no, that`s not true. The meeting was set up between Erik Prince and this emissary of the Kremlin, the guy who runs a Russian fund specifically for this conversation. Does that put Erik Prince in legal peril, Barbara?
MCQUADE: Yes, I think it potentially does. You know, you would want additional evidence so you don`t just have two contradictory statements. But if someone made a false statement before Congress, that is absolutely a crime if it comes out that way. If this turns out not to have been a chance encounter but instead orchestrated scheduled meeting, I think that certainly could put him in danger of prosecution.
HAYES: There`s also, Joyce, the fact that we`ve now got a series of contacts and a series of lies about those contacts or deceptions about those contacts or alleged lies about those contacts. So during this transition period, you`ve got, of course, the sort of original sin, Michael Flynn calls Sergey Kislyak numerous times, tells investigators he didn`t discuss sanctions. We know he did. That`s the thing that he pleaded guilty to. Jared Kushner meeting with the head of a sanctioned bank, Jared Kushner meeting with Sergey Kislyak who he smuggled in the Trump Tower leaving both those contacts off his SF-86 forms, Erik Prince going to the Seychelles to meet someone for a meeting and then not being forthcoming it appears possibly about the meaning of that? It looks -- I don`t know, what do you make of that pattern?
VANCE: The big red flag here is the lies because some of these meetings would be OK, right? Incidental contact with an Ambassador at a meeting probably not a problem if you disclose it. Some of these other meetings really not a big deal unless you`re lying about it. And what is it that they feel they have to conceal and cover-up? You know, this is bait for prosecutors. This is the kind of thing that prosecutors dig down on hard because the lies are such an important marker that something here isn`t right in the minds of folks like Prince as they`re conducting these meetings.
HAYES: Do you agree with that, Barbara?
MCQUADE: Yes, absolutely. I also think it`s significant that this is now the second time we`ve heard reporting about efforts to set up a back channel to talk with Russians. And this is -- you know, now into the transition and into the administration time period. So we`re getting away from campaign activity and now into the presidency. Why is it that the Trump administration wants to have a back channel of communication that the U.S. intelligence community can`t listen to? I think if you`re Robert Mueller, this also raises a red flag that is there some sort of illegal activity going on here? Is there some sort of quid pro quo going on? And I think he`s going to be curious to learn more about that.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, that`s my question listening to all this. What are they hiding? Joyce Vance and Barbara McQuade, that was fantastic. Thank you, both.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: All right, turning now to breaking news on Stormy Daniels where efforts again to cover up an alleged affair between adult film actress and the President of the United States are falling apart before our eyes. Stephanie Clifford known professionally as Stormy Daniels is now suing the President and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen alleging a nondisclosure agreement she signed before the election is invalid because the President himself never signed. According to a civil complaint filed yesterday in Los Angeles back in October 2016, not long after the Access Hollywood video was released, Daniels was preparing to go public with the story of her alleged affair with Donald Trump.
Cohen, the President`s lawyer, has maintained the President denies there was affair but according to the complaint, Ms. Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels began an intimate relationship with Mr. Trump in the summer of 2006 in Lake Tahoe and continued her relationship Mr. Trump well into the year of 2007. Her lawyer says the President, then just the candidate, found out about her plans to come forward in the home stretch of the campaign and "Mr. Trump with the assistance of his attorney Mr. Cohen aggressively sought to silence Miss Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth thus helping to ensure he won the Presidential election."
Now, sometime around October 28th, 2016, less than two weeks before election day, Stormy Daniels signed what her lawyer calls a hush agreement, a copy of which was included with yesterday`s court filing. And as Cohen, as already confirmed publicly, it directed $130,000 payment be made to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence. Cohen has said he used his own personal funds to "facilitate the payment," and said neither the Trump organization nor the campaign were involved in any way. He has not said whether the President himself was involved. The White House says it`s not aware of whether the President himself knew about the payment. But in an interview, this morning on "THE TODAY SHOW," Stormy Daniels` lawyer claimed Cohen could not have acted alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER FOR STORMY DANIELS: We think it`s highly questionable as to whether it came from his personal funds.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: You think the President knew about it?
AVENATTI: There`s no question the President knew about it at the time. The idea that an attorney would go off on his own without his client`s knowledge and engage in this type of negotiation and enter into this type of agreement quite honestly I think is ludicrous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The hush agreement also required Stormy Daniels to turn over tangible evidence of the alleged affair including information, certain still images and or text messages relating to the relationship. This morning, her lawyer declined to answer one way or the other whether she still has copies of that documentation, interesting. But he argues that Stormy Daniels should now be able to share her story in full because the President he says never signed the agreement where he was supposed to rendering the whole thing null and void. Asked about the lawsuit today, the White House issued a blanket denial without getting specific about what the President knew or what he may have done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: The President has addressed these directly and made very well clear none of these allegations are true. This case has already been won in arbitration and anything beyond that, I would refer to you the President`s outside counsel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did the President address specifically the cash payment that was made in October of 2016?
SANDERS: The President has denied the allegations against him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he know about the payment at the time?
SANDERS: Not that I`m aware of. And again, anything beyond what I`ve already given you, I would refer you to the President`s outside counsel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said there`s arbitration that`s already been won by whom and when?
SANDERS: By the president`s personal attorneys and for details on that, I would refer you to you them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you`re aware of them. So what more can you share with us?
SANDERS: I can share that the arbitration was won in the President`s favor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There was arbitration decided in the President`s favor. It almost certainly confirms he was party to the contract. The new lawsuit alleges just last week Michael Cohen "surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford a.k.a. Stormy Daniels without even providing her with notice to the proceeding. Tonight, NBC News reports that as part of that proceeding, Cohen took new steps to silence Stormy Daniels obtaining a temporary restraining order to keep her from saying anything covered by the hush agreement. This is the President`s lawyer. And according to her lawyer, Cohen has continued to try to enforce that order.
Earlier today, Mr. Cohen through his attorney Mr. Rosen, further threatened my client in an effort to prevent her from telling the truth about what really happened. We do not take kindly to these threats nor will we be intimidated. Cohen`s attorney is yet to comment. Jennifer Rubin is a Columnist for the Washington Post and an MSNBC Contributor, Jenna Johnson is a Washington Post Political Reporter. Jennifer Rubin, let me start with you. What do you make of all this?
JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Oh my, I have to put on my recovering lawyer hat for a moment and go back. Stormy Daniels claims that this agreement was void so therefore, nothing in it is going to prevent her from talking to the press. And moreover, any agreement that was contained in there to arbitrator, to go to a private arbitration to discuss disputes arising from the agreement or arising from the relationship she would claim as also invalid. So I think that`s what her lawyer is saying that we`re not recognizing this at all. How you could have an arbitration provision without notice to the other side, I don`t know. And unless you have a court order to enforce the order from the arbitrator it`s not going to enforceable anyway. Be that as it may, this is remarkable for several reasons. Not to mention of course, that the President was paying hush money to someone to shut up before the election.
First, there are allegations that the President in some way was coercive, was threatening to Stormy Daniels. So what`s all that about is that something that`s actionable? Secondly, this was not disclosed by the President in June of 2017 when he made his financial disclosure. According to at least some lawyers, the folks at crew, which is the committee for -- or Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, that was improper because that essence was an asset. Third problem here is that if it was a payment from Mr. Cohen and the purpose was to shut her up in advance of the election, that was a campaign donation and it was way in excess of the limits that are permitted under Federal Election Law. So Common Cause has brought a claim in front of the federal election commission challenging that so you`ve got a bunch of things. Aside from the fact, we should take a breath and step back and say, this is outrageous.
HAYES: Well, Jenna, I mean, part of -- part of what strikes me here is this is -- this is a well-oiled machine for Trump and Michael Cohen of dealing with this, NDAs, sort of using the law to keep people quiet. They`ve had a you know, Donald Trump has gone through probably the most litigated person in the world. That doesn`t quite work as well when you`re President of the United States.
JENNA JOHNSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Exactly. I mean, this is a man who has long valued his privacy. He likes to present himself as he wants to be seen. And anyone who contradicts that or says things that he doesn`t like he will go after them. I mean, it`s long been practiced at Trump Tower that employees, even low-level people on the campaign weren`t signing nondisclosure agreements saying that they wouldn`t talk about what they saw or the Trump that they saw behind the scenes. But again, that`s at Trump Tower. He`s now at the White House, you know, and headed into the White House, you know, this is -- it doesn`t work like this.
HAYES: Well, that`s -- Jennifer, that`s the issue, is that Stormy Daniels and her lawyer recognized they have all the leverage. The law doesn`t matter at this point. I mean, like, at this point, the whole idea was to keep her quiet. They`ve given her money. She`s now talking. Is the President of the United States going to sue the woman for the $130,000 back like go ahead and try it?
RUBIN: Apparently. And by following the lawsuit and putting all of these allegations in it, she`s essentially spelled out what she knows.
RUBIN: So she is laying enough bread crumbs to get us to the nearest bakery. So yes, she has won already. And I`m a little bit puzzled under these circumstances why Michael Cohen is still running around harassing this woman. It just looks bad.
HAYES: Well, that`s exactly, Jenna, my question for you, is like, Michael Cohen is doing stuff recently. I mean, the idea of initiating arbitration and getting a restraining order to get her 0 to not talk about it which it seems like the lawsuit is in some ways sort of in response to that, like what is his relationship to the President of the United States at this point? How do we characterize that?
JOHNSON: Well, that`s a very, very good question. And the White House has been dodging those sorts of questions and not explaining them. But there`s one thing that`s really on Trump`s side in this situation is that this isn`t the biggest story of the day. There is so much going on. There`s so much chaos in the White House. Their staff leaving, there`s the Mueller investigation, you know, that this Stormy Daniels is just kind of almost getting lost in the wind. Last night -- last month I was in the Kansas City suburbs talking with Republican women who will be voting in the Senate race later this year and talking about women`s issues and things that the President had done and said and things like that. And in dozens of interviews not a single woman brought up Stormy Daniels --
JOHNSON: -- on the list of things that they`re upset about with this President. That one is not registering. Is that going to change as this is now in the news more and we have these lawsuits flying around and things like that? But I know that this is great frustration to Democrats who look at this and say, how is this happening and how is this not sticking to him?
HAYES: Well, the one thing I will say what unifies a lot of stories right now is the question of what we know and don`t know. And every time we think, well, I now have the full set of facts out in front of me, we learn that there`s new stuff we didn`t. And so, there`s lots of stuff that`s been locked up behind NDAs, or stuff that Mueller has gotten to. There`s meeting in the Seychelles islands. Like, all these things we keep learning news stuff. The question is like how much more new is there to learn which will ultimately determine the answer I think Jenna to your question. Jennifer Rubin and Jenna Johnson, thank you, both.
RUBIN: Thank you.
HAYES: The Trump administration is basically going to war with California according to Governor of that state. Up next, Senator Kamala Harris on today`s Jeff Sessions tirade and his lawsuit targeting California in two minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: I understand that we have a wide variety of political opinions out there on immigration but the law is in the books and its purposes are clear and just. There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is the supreme law of the land. I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg or to the tombstones of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to California today and announced that he`s suing it. The Justice Department is claiming a three separate state laws make it harder for ICE agents to detain undocumented immigrants. The lawsuit is perhaps the boldest move yet against so-called sanctuary laws. Today, Sessions also called out California officials who acted to protect undocumented residents. California Governor Jerry Brown was not at all pleased.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: This is basically going to war against the State of California, the engine of the American economy. It`s not wise, it`s not right and it will not stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: With me now, Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat from California, formerly that state`s Attorney General. Attorney General Sessions compared California`s actions quite intentionally I think to the actions of the slave states in nullification and secession during the civil war. What do you say to that?
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Indeed, indeed he did. Listen, as far as I`m concerned, Jeff Sessions should be advised and I`ll advise him right now that it is -- it`s a bad idea for him to start talking about anything to do with the history of slavery or reconstruction or the civil war in the United States. His credibility is pretty much shot on those issues. But on the topic at hand, Chris, I think Jerry Brown is absolutely right. This administration and Jeff Sessions, in particular, have clearly put a target on the back of California and California is going to fight. And I think that these folks are really mired in rolling back the clock in time and that`s not going to happen. California represents the future and they don`t like it, but there you go.
HAYES: Well -- but here`s -- the point of law they`re making, I`d like to you respond to this, is basically they`re citing the Obama administration`s lawsuit against Arizona`s SB 1070.
HAYES: And the sort of -- the sort of formal nature of that from a sort of legal perspective was supremacy of the federal government over regulating immigration, the constitution gives the federal government that power and that you in California are abrogating that to yourself and that the same standard should apply to California. Why are they wrong?
HARRIS: Well, first of all, they`re hypocritical. You can look at members of this administration whether it is the head EPA who when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma said that federal emission standards and other standards as it relates to greenhouse gas emissions should not apply to the states. You can look at this Attorney General who has said that imposing the terms of the voting rights act on the states creates an undue burden and is meddling with the air affairs of each state. So it`s hypocrisy at its height. And again, let`s not -- I think there`s a distraction and that they`re trying to suggest that this is about the constitution when in fact, what they`re doing is playing politics. They`re playing politics and they`re playing politics with California. This Attorney General is doing that and he`s going to lose.
HAYES: One of the items that Jeff Sessions attacked specifically was the actions of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf who recently warned the city`s residents about an impending ICE raid. He basically said, how dare you do that? Do you think those actions that the mayor took were appropriate?
HARRIS: I think that every mayor has to make a decision and I`ve convened the actually the mayors -- various mayors in California and each one is making a decision based on his and her estimation of what`s in the best interest of their constituents. And I support their ability and their capability to make those decisions. I`m not going to second-guess it.
HAYES: Should ICE exist?
HARRIS: Should ICE exist? Well, certainly. When we`re talking about people who have committed serious and violent crimes, you know, I mean, Chris, you know my background. I`m a Prosecutor. I believe there needs to be serious severe and swift consequence when people commit serious and violent crimes. One human being kills another human being, a woman is raped, a child molested, there needs to be serious consequence. And certainly, if they`re undocumented, they should be deported if they commit serious and violent offenses. So yes, ICE has a purpose. ICE has a role, ICE should exist. But let`s not abuse the power. Let`s not extend it to areas that were not -- that are not posing a threat to the safety and the public safety of these communities especially when we know that these federal agencies have limited resources to do their core job.
When you look at the United States Department of Justice, I know local law enforcement in California and around the country wants assistance dealing with things like human trafficking, the trafficking of guns and drugs, transnational criminal organizations. Put your resources there where the states really need you, to help with the public safety of those communities, again, instead of playing politics. It`s unnecessary and frankly, this administration has decided they`re going to scapegoat communities. They`re throwing red meat out to their base while they`re at the same time picking the pockets of the taxpayers of the United States with a $1 trillion tax bill that is benefiting big corporations. It`s a lot of the distraction from the job that they really need to be doing.
HAYES: You know, March 5th just a few days ago is the deadline for the end of DACA. Now, that has been extended because of court injunctions. But there`s still no permanent statutory solution. The President has been taunting Democrats saying basically Democrats don`t care about that. I`m waiting for you to come to the table. What`s your response to that?
HARRIS: Well, this administration and this President arbitrary made a decision on September 5th of last year to rescind DACA, arbitrarily. And then set in place this arbitrary deadline of March 5th which passed a couple days ago. My strong feeling and the work that I`ve been doing and the fight I will continue to wage is to give protection for these DREAMers and give them a permanent sense of protection and again, let`s stop playing politics and fear mongering around this population of young people who have only known one home which is our home. They are serving in our military, they`re in our colleges and universities and we made a promise to them we would protect them and need to keep our promise.
HAYES: Finally, I want to ask you a legal question which pertains the President of the United States. There`s a New York Times report that just came out. I`m not sure if you`ve seen it, but the basic top line is the President has been talking to people that have been investigated by Robert Mueller or at least have been interviewed by Robert Mueller. He`s been talking to witnesses, Reince Priebus, he asked him if the questions where nice, apparently, talking to Don McGahn his own White House Counsel whose been investigated by Mueller about the order he gave Don McGahn about firing Mueller. As a United States Senator, as a lawyer, what do you think about the President doing that?
HARRIS: Well, as you know, I`m proud to say I am not the President`s attorney so I would not pretend to give him advice.
HAYES: Junior Senior from California is a hard job but that one is harder.
HARRIS: Well, I like my job and I don`t envy those who have the other one. But I`ll say this. What we know is that we have an investigation in place. I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee and also Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security but as it relates to the investigation and the interviews, there should be no tampering whatsoever. And we already have a history of knowing that this President fired the person who was in charge of conducting an investigation. He already has a bad history on this issue and so I am sure his attorney is advising him to step back and to stay away from discussions with witnesses.
HAYES: Senator Kamala Harris of California, it`s a great pleasure to have you on the program. Come back anytime. Thank you.
HARRIS: Thank you.
HAYES: All right, coming up, yet another of these so-called adults exit of the White House. We`ll explore some of the colorful characters attempting to fill the void. That`s right after this break.
HAYES: So it turns out the measure people are not really psyched about the trade war that President Trump is trying to start in his own words. Quinnipiac University finding 64 percent of respondents disagree with Donald Trump that a trade war would be good for the country and would easy to win.
Gary Cohn, of course, tried to put the brakes on that idea, but now he`s out as the president`s chief economic adviser. And among the top contenders to replace him is Peter Navarro, an economist the Trump team discovered through a somewhat random Amazon search, a staunch protectionist, who produced a documentary with images of Chinese steel spilling American blood, and who became a key figure in urging the president to go ahead with the steel and aluminum tariffs and start his trade war.
Michelle Goldberg is a columnist at The New York Times, Ali Velshi is the anchor here at MSNBC and co-host of Velshi and Ruhle, Adam Davidson is a staff writer at The New Yorker.
What I think is fascinating about this moment is Cohn was this sort of ultra-establishment person who had the politics of Wall Street very much so. He was in there to kind of do the Wall Street stuff and now he`s gone and there`s this question of like what is the vacuum going to be filled with?
ADAM DAVIDSON, THE NEW YORKER: It is hard to convey how extremely outside of any economic mainstream someone like Peter Navarro, and some of the other people around Trump are. I mean, there is no conversation happening. These are not people who are from agriculture or from manufacturing as opposed to Wall Street, these are people...
HAYES: Or like -- or people who are critics of the kind of current global world trade order from within the profession who are engaged in those debates.
DAVIDSON: Peter Navarro, literally with his help, tried to find one other economist who agrees with him on any of his trade theories. I could not find a single one. He is -- they are -- if you can even articulate what his theories are. It`s very troubling.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC: The criticism of the world trade order is real, right. For years, for decades, economists said if you have unfettered trade, it will increase GDP growth which it did, it will increase corporate profitability, which it did, and it will be good for jobs and wages, which it`s not, certainly not in the richer country.
So, there`s a real problem to fix here. Steel would be a good example of how to fix it. Coal is in the same category of things we have to understand didn`t work in the new world order.
But what the president`s doing doesn`t go any distance toward repairing this problem, it just makes a few steelworkers feel like, oh, that`s nice. You`re on my side.
HAYES: There`s also the broader issue which is like the way this all went down which is unnerving, because like what happened were tariffs and I think they`re bad policy, and I really hope the response isn`t bad, but that`s sort of low stakes compared to what could happen. Like, what happens if Peter Navarro like got to the president who was in a bad mood and angry at people and wanted to kind of lash out and convinced him to take this policy position and the mind reels at other versions of that.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, to me, in a certain way, it`s unnerving but it`s also -- I mean, certainly better a trade war than a war war, right? And I feel like there`s something salutatory (ph) about the fact that all of these people who have been willing to look the other way at Trump`s manifest unfitness, right, who have been willing to suck up any amount of dysfunction because it meant they were going to get their tax cuts or they thought that they could manipulate him into passing Paul Ryan`s economic agenda, now have to reckon with what they have enabled to happen in this country. And again, better the reckoning comes now.
DAVIDSON: Than North Korea.
GOLDBERG: Right, than on North Korea.
HAYES: Right, that like whoever the Peter Navarro of North Korea is,Bolton, you know, gets into the White House and manages to talk to him.
The other thing here I think is so fascinating about like if people are talking about who is going to replace Cohn, is there`s this idea of like what is Trumpism? Is it any kind of ideology? And the people (inaudible) like Navarro who is this is crazy sort of fringe character on trade and then like Larry Kudlow and Steven Moore who are the most like opposite supply side people in the universe...
VELSHI: Free traders.
DAVIDSON: Absolute free traders.
HAYES: Which sort of embodies the whole preposterous vacuum at the center of this.
DAVIDSON: Although, obviously to argue that Donald Trump does not have a sophisticated understanding of various views on trade is sound. However, of all of his sort of weird policy flips and flops, this is the one for 40 years he`s been talking about. We should have tariffs on China.
HAYES: No, the Japanese back in the `80s he was on Oprah Winfrey saying the Japanese.
But there`s also the fact that you have like Kudlow and Moore to me, Ali, is like that is what we have seen from domestic policy of Trump largely has just been basically.
VELSHI: Basically normal doctrinaire...
HAYES: Basically the Wall Street Journal editorial page being like, yeah, dude, cut corporate taxes.
VELSHI: So, Kudlow who may or may not be negotiating -- auditioning for this was on today on CNBC talking about the fact that really this is, you know, this is going to be Canada and Mexico working together to shut things down with bad China trade and then you saw a tweet from the president earlier today saying really we`re going to going after China on intellectual property.
It`s all over the map.
The problem is, working Americans could do with a president who decides to take on their agenda, right? There`s a strain here that`s interesting. Let me look after you who has been messed around by these trade agreements for decades. But he`s not doing it. He`s saying it and it`s not really going to help.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, he`s interested in you know, being able to say I saved these specific 500 steel jobs or this one factory in Indiana. And I mean, he`s interested in basically, you know, kind of commercials. He`s interested in things that he can put on television and point to. And that`s why I think there`s actually not that much of a contradiction why on the one hand he wants this kind of nutjob China hawk or Larry Kudlow. I mean, they`re both figures -- well, I guess more Larry and Steven Moore, they`re figures from television.
HAYES: Right, no, exactly, right. Navarro...
DAVIDSON: That`s why I think Navarro doesn`t get the job. Navarro is a -- he`s a loose cannon. We have not seen a lot of the him on TV.
HAYES: You`ve interacted with him.
DAVIDSON: I`ve spent a lot of time on the phone with him. And he`s very Trumpian. He screams at you. He accuses you of lying. He lies about things you`ve said.
HAYES: Oh, nice.
DAVIDSON: He`s a tough tough guy to talk to. I talked to some of his colleagues, I`m forgetting where he teaches. They were thinking of actually posting on the economics department website we do not agree with Peter Navarro on any of these economic issues.
VELSHI: But he does put forward unusual theories, because he knows he`ll get the only coverage for it because no one else is on that side.
HAYES: I mean, I think he also believes in it. I mean, he seems to be a true believer in what he`s...
DAVIDSON: Well, he may be. I mean, he was a failed politician who kind of -- and also a failed trying to get a bunch of books sold who landed on this and it really worked for him.
HAYES: Well, I should say that someone is just telling me from the control room The Washington Post now reporting that there`s a -- that Trump is going -- he`s going to have this announcement tomorrow, possibly exemptions for Canada and Mexico, which again goes to this just like terrifying weather vane thing here.
DAVIDSON: Because we`ll have sort of a North American Free Trade Agreement.
HAYES: Congratulations, you`ve reinvented...
DAVIDSON: As a Canadian, I`ll tell you, I`ve never heard such tough talk from Canadians about America in my life.
HAYES: Well, they are...
GOLDBERG: It`s fascinating how often we`re having now diplomatic rows with Canada.
DAVIDSON: Right, who does that.
HAYES: Or the EU.
DAVIDSON: But ultimately, Canada.
HAYES: By the way, we should say the largest exporter of steel to the U.S. is Canada.
VELSHI: And aluminum and energy. That`s the important part. And by the way, electricity.
If you`re in the northeast of America you`re on the same grid -- and water to a lot of America.
This is just a bad fight.
Picking a fight with South Korea on trade, it`s a bad fight right now, because we kind of need South Korea.
There is a correlation between those you trade with and those you don`t fight with. And the president doesn`t seem to have any regard for that.
HAYES: There`s also this question of like congressional Republicans, you know, are making noises that they`re going to stand up to him on this.
GOLDBERG: And they could, right. I mean, this is something that congress has statutory authority.
HAYES: Yes. Which they sort of gave to the president and could take back.
GOLDBERG: Right, but they could take it back. I mean, and it kind of I think shows like how completely -- I`m trying to think of a better word than gelded they`ve become in dealing with him, that even on issues where they have strong disagreements, they -- and he kind of has no political capital on his side -- they still...
VELSHI: They seem shy, yeah.
GOLDBERG: ...won`t stand up to him.
HAYES: Mark Meadows said -- Mark Meadows the other day who is in the Freedom caucus sort of a spokesperson for them saying, like, yeah, we don`t think there`s much of an appetite with the president on this tariff issue.
And I was actually interested to see those polling numbers for exactly the reason you said, Ali. I think a lot of Americans feel like the sort of global trade order hasn`t been great for a lot of the workers, but when you say a trade war.
VELSHI: Yeah, that`s not good. They`re not good. There`s no expectation that even friendly countries will not retaliate in some way. Now, they may retaliate in a small way. It may be tomato farmers, it may be almond farmers in California...
HAYES: Or bourbon in Kentucky.
VELSHI: Or Jeans, but it`s going to hurt someone.
GOLDBERG: And they`re going to retaliate in ways that specifically target Trump country.
HAYES: Michelle Goldberg, Ali Velshi, Adam Davidson, thanks for joining me. That was fun.
Still to come, Senator Elizabeth Warren on the state of the resistance. Why tonight she`s calling on her own party for working with Republicans. You don`t want to miss that. And following the money in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, remember that time Donald Trump tried to stiff veterans charities? Yes, that actually happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s for our vets and you`re going to like it because we raised over $5 million in one day, over $5 million. So that`s not so bad. We actually raised close to six, to be totally honest.
Donald Trump gave $1 million, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was a complete total lie. Donald Trump did not give that money to charity until he got caught. Four months later in May, four months, The Washington Post reporter David Farenthold started checking with charities looking for all that money and especially Trump`s personal pledge on January 28 Donald Trump gave $1 million.
On May 21st, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski responded to Farenthold, the money is fully spent. Mr. Trump`s money is fully spent. Also a lie because it wasn`t until May 23, after they were caught, that Trump called the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation saying he would write them a $1 million check.
Trump lied for four months straight about donating money to vets.
Well, now David Farenthold has a new project, the mystery money the Trump hotels say they donated to the Treasure Department is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: During the transition, President-elect Donald Trump promised he would donate all hotel profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury.
As we told you last week, the Trump org claims it has donated foreign profits from 2017 to the treasury, but they refused to say how much or give details, which is odd. Well, Washington Post reporter David Farenthold is back on the money trail. He has filed a FOIA request for the Treasury Department.
And if you want to play along, he has a contest at Twitter @farenthold. You can guess how much Trump Org donated. I`m placing my bet on $27,000. We`ll see what the FOIA shows. How much money, if any, was donated and whether this promise holds up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERI DILLON, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: The President-elect Trump has decided and we are announcing today that he is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: If their bets failed, these more dangerous banks, are more likely to crumble and more likely to bring the rest of the economy with them. This is madness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Senator Elizabeth Warren took to the floor today to express outrage over a bill that Republicans are soon expected to pass with the help of some Senate Democrats.
The bill would roll back many of the Wall Street reforms passed a decade ago following a financial crisis. And Senator Elizabeth Warren joins me now.
Why is -- how does this get 67 votes? I mean, you haven`t actually voted on it so far. But...
WARREN: I`m sorry, let me just stop you right there, how does this get any votes? Any votes? We are now -- next week will be the 10th year anniversary of when Lehmann Brothers crashed and signaled to the entire world that the collapse of 2008 had started. And how it could be that after we got some Dodd-Frank protections in place, after we got 10 years, nearly, of trying to rebuild, after the banks are more profitable than they have ever been in history, how could it be that this congress is saying, I know what let`s do, let`s make it easier for big banks to cheat American families. Let`s make it easier for them to load up on risks. Let`s take 25 of the 40 largest banks in America, banks that sucked down $50 billion in bailout money, and nobody went to jail, let`s take them off the watch list and treat them like itty, tiny, little community banks out somewhere nowhere where they can`t hurt the economy.
HAYES: OK, so here`s -- I want to bear down on this for a little bit. The idea, right, is that the criticism of Dodd-Frank was that it partly was responsible for increasing consolidation in the banking finance sector, that smaller banks were having a hard time dealing with it. And so the origin of this legislation, as I understand it, was to make some adjustment so it would be better for small banks. And then -- well, is that right, I guess. Let me start there and then come on the next question.
WARREN: So, look, we started in three years ago. And all the Democrats got together on the banking committee and said what can we do to reduce regulations for small banks? And we sat down, a lot of people put things on the table, and agreed as a group. We could go for all of these. We show them to the Republicans. And they say not unless you agree to reduce the regulations on the giant banks.
WARREN: And we said no, we`re not going to do that. We`ll only do it for the community banks. And the community banks have been held as the human shields.
And so finally what happened is the Republicans got their way, and they are moving forward on a bill that has some help for the community banks and has a lot of help for really big banks.
HAYES: So, that`s your -- is that your understanding -- I mean, there are people that I imagine you feel like you agree with on a lot of things, someone like Tim Kaine, for instance, that voted for this in the first procedural vote. is that the understanding of the judgment they`re making here, that in the general mix here, at least we`re getting some of this.
WARREN: Look, it is the only talking point that I have heard from the other side, because nobody can explain why they`re saying that banks that are up to a quarter of a trillion dollars should be regulated as if they`re community banks. Also, nobody can explain why this bill has provisions in it to hurt consumers. And let me mention just one.
WARREN: You know, we collect data now. We learned some lessons from the crash. And one of the lessons we learned is that there are a fair number of financial institutions that just outright discriminate. They charge African-Americans more than they charge whites. They charge Latinos more than they charge whites. There`s a question about women being able to get access to credit. So we said we`re going to have to collect some data and get some data about what`s going on. And by the way, much of this data the banks already collect. It`s that we want reported so that you can keep track of what`s happening.
And one of the things that`s in this bill says you know, a whole bunch of banks, about 85 percent of banks are actually not going to have to report that data. Now I want to be fair here, the amount of data that it will be reduced, because these are mostly small banks that won`t be reporting, will only be maybe 10 percent or a little more. But here`s the problem, there will be whole areas where there will be no data at all.
WARREN: No data at all. And if there`s no data, then there`s no way to know if these financial institutions are discriminating against people. We need that data to keep the banks honest. And why do we need the data to keep the banks honest? Because time after time over the past 10 years when we did have the data, we uncovered the fact that there were banks that were discriminating, and we were able to bring charges against those banks and get them to change those practices, and to make it all public.
You know, there`s no data, there`s no way to do that. And that`s the kind of thing that`s just buried in here.
There`s another piece that`s buried in here. After the crash in 2008, we decided, OK, look, when we built Dodd-Frank and built consumer agency, there are certain ways you`re not going to be able to cheat people on home mortgages anymore, crazy teaser rates and so on and so forth, stuff hidden in the fine print. And that applies to people who buy bricks and mortar homes, people who buy condos, and people who buy manufactured housing, trailers.
What this bill says is, OK, we`ll still apply it to bricks and mortar houses and condos, but, you know, people who are living in manufactured housing, let`s just make it open season on them.
HAYES: Wait, really?
WARREN: Yeah, really.
HAYES: No, there`s actually a carve out for manufactured housing for mortgage practices?
Think about that, this is just a bill that was written by the lobbyists to help their clients, and not to help the American people, not to help community bankers. This is a bill that was written, that`s why it`s called the lobbyists bill, you know, the bank lobbyists bill, because the bank lobbyists said when Dodd-Frank passed -- you know, a lot of people said, OK, we beat back the bank lobbyists, the chief bank lobbyist, on the day that Dodd-Frank passed, said it`s only halftime. And what he meant is we`re coming back and coming back and coming back until we roll back these regulations.
HAYES: I want to ask you about something you just donated, since I have you here -- you just actually $5,000 to every state Democratic Party for a total of $250,000. People are interpreting that as a big move, perhaps, on the way to running for president, is that a correct interpretation?
WARREN: No, I am not running for president. I`m running for senate in Massachusetts, 2018.
HAYES: I asked if that was a correct interpretation as a first move towards that.
WARREN: No. Let me tell you what it is a move toward. I believe that we need to build the infrastructure in the Democratic Party in every single state in this country. And that means they need resources right now to be able to reach out, to be able to get voters registered, to be able to do their grassroots organizing.
And I want to help them in any way I can. You know, the other part I talked about at this same speech you`re talking about is the importance of having a Democratic Party that stands for something, a Democratic Party that isn`t just willing to take on a fight when it comes to it, a Democratic Party that picks fights, a Democratic Party that makes people across this country say I want to get out there and vote. That`s what I want to see.
HAYES: Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you or your time tonight. That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now with Ari Melber in for Rachel Maddow.
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