Shulkin hits back after being fired by Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 03/29/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: David Shulkin, Bernie Sanders, Cecilia Munoz, Renato Mariotti, Maya Wiley, Sam Seder, Carter Page

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: March 29, 2018 Guest: David Shulkin, Bernie Sanders, Cecilia Munoz, Renato Mariotti, Maya Wiley, Sam Seder, Carter Page

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- tells us how to fix it.

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christina?

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: If you`re watching New York State politics, Cynthia Nixon is going to give Andrew Cuomo a run for his money.

KORNACKI: All right, Christina, Carrie, Laura that does it for us. Thanks for joining us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We say hey, Jim, you`re fired. Get out of here, Jim.

HAYES: The fan fired by a Trump tweet yesterday blows the whistle on the President today.

TRUMP: They don`t want to talk about it.

HAYES: Tonight, Senator Bernie Sanders on what he says is a Koch brother project to dismantle the V.A. Then, breaking news from the Special Counsel. Robert Mueller is investigating Trump Campaign contact with Russians at the convention.

Did you meet Sergey Kislyak in Cleveland? Did you talk to him?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER FOREIGN-POLICY ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I`m not going to deny that I talked with him.

HAYES: My guest tonight, Carter Page.

Plus, Steve Schmidt on the Republican plot to stop Mueller. And did Trump`s lawyer`s lawyer just give up the game on Stormy Daniels.

DAVID SCHWARTZ, LAWYER OF MICHAEL COHEN: The President was not aware of the agreement.

HAYES: Whether he ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The latest person to be unceremoniously dumped from the Trump administration is now blowing the whistle on what he says is the real reason for his down fall in an effort that traces directly to the Koch brothers. David Shulkin will join me here live in just a moment. Shulkin of course, the now former Secretary of Veterans Affairs who once had a sterling reputation, an Obama holdover re- nominated by Donald Trump. He was confirmed by the Senate to lead the V.A. in a 100-0 vote. But like so many people who have come into contact with President Trump, Shulkin who joins me momentarily now finds his reputation under attack, fired by tweet and cast aside in favor of the President`s personal doctor Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, a man who lacks the sort of management experience that would prepare him to lead the Federal Government`s second largest department but who did offer a remarkably rosy assessment of the President`s health.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONNY JACKSON, NOMINEE, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Some people have you know, just great genes. You know, I told the President if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old. I don`t know. I mean, he has incredible -- he has incredible genes. I just assume --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Shulkin alleged today he was fired because he did not want to the privatize V.A. care. In essence, because he refused to dismantle the V.A. He claims he fell victim to a power play by Trump`s political appointees "they saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I`m convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies for profits even if it undermines care for veterans. The V.A. offers healthcare to more than 9 million veterans often for free. And despite what you may have heard, it is popular with the people who need it. ProPublica points out 92 percent of veterans in a poll conducted by the VFW reported they would rather improve the V.A. system than dismantle it. The V.A. is also crucially more effective than provate options. Independence assessments have found that V.A. health care outperforms comparable private facilities. And that`s why the major veterans groups do not want to move the V.A. towards privatization. But you know who does? Well, the Koch brothers and their ideological allies who have long been on the mission to demonize the V.A. and who back-rolled a group previously led by Fox And Fiend Pete Hegseth who took his talking points straight to Trump T.V.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE HEGSETH, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Ultimately, the most important aspect I think is giving veterans a choice in a timely manner to either go to a V.A. facility or go to a private provider outside of the V.A. if they need to. That creates the competition that a hospital like this is going to need if it`s going to start create treating veterans like customers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: You hear that right now, choice, right? Well, Trump reportedly considering appointing Hegseth to run the V.A. prompting outrage and backlash from Veterans groups. And while Trump ultimately declined to pick Hegseth, it sure sounds like they`re both in from the same page. Just listen carefully to what the President had to say today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: But I`m doing that for the vets and we made changes because we want them taken care of. We want them to have choice so that they can run to a private doctor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: And joining me now is former V.A. Secretary David Shulkin. Mr. Shulkin, how do you know that you were fired over what you say was your opposition to privatizing the V.A.?

DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER SECRETARY, VETERANS AFFAIRS: Well, I think that the President made a decision on who he wants to represent Veteran Affairs in the cabinet. That`s a decision that the President makes. There was clear evidence though that the political appointees inside V.A. were working against me and my leadership team because they felt that we were trying to strengthen the V.A. rather than move it towards privatization.

HAYES: Who though? I mean, I`m a little confused about how this state of affairs comes about. You haven`t really named names. You`re saying there are individuals, you know who they are who were working across purposes to essentially sabotage you?

SHULKIN: I`m absolutely saying that and the names have been named. There are documents that have been shared and published. They`re in the -- they`re in the newspapers right now that show the political appointees who have written memos to try to disrupt the operations at V.A. And we`ve been focused on trying to make the progress that our veterans need to be able to fulfill the mission that this country owes the responsibility to take care of those hose have served.

HAYES: Will you just tell me the names of these individuals?

SHULKIN: I`m not going to start naming names right here but they`re all available. They`ve been published, The New York Times has it and others have it, as well. They are people that have represented the office of Public Affairs, they`re the White House representatives who are in V.A. a number of them have already been identified.

HAYES: Does this come ultimately from the White House? Do you believe the President of the United States was essentially favored this agenda that you say was sort of a fifth column inside your own -- your own department?

SHULKIN: No, I don`t -- I don`t have any evidence that that`s the case. I think that the President wants to improve care for veterans. I think that he is not served well by political appointees who are taking their own personal agendas much further than I think that he intended them to.

HAYES: When is the last time you spoke to him?

SHULKIN: I spoke to the President yesterday.

HAYES: What was that conversation like?

SHULKIN: We spoke about the progress that I was making, what I needed to do from a policy perspective to make sure we`re fixing the issues in V.A., very focused. He was very inquisitive about the things that we were working on, making sure that we were focused on the job at hand.

HAYES: That`s before you were fired?

SHULKIN: That`s correct.

HAYES: You spoke to him, he made no mention of the fact that he was about to terminate you?

SHULKIN: That`s correct.

HAYES: And then you found out via tweet?

SHULKIN: Right before that, the Chief of Staff Kelly gave me a call which I appreciated, gave me a heads-up. And so -- but that was much after the phone call.

HAYES: What -- was the President receptive to what you were saying on that phone call as you were updating him on the improvements you say you were making at the V.A.?

SHULKIN: I think that the -- it was a normal conversation with the President where he asked me what was going on. This is notes a typical. I gave him the updates and told him where we were focused and he had questions about that and it was a very interactive exchange as we normally have our discussions.

HAYES: Does the President understand the nuts and bolts of how the V.A. functions and what you were doing there?

SHULKIN: I think this is a very complex organization, and from the outside, it seems easy, why aren`t things fixed faster. The truth is, is that the V.A. has had systemic problems for decades which spans multiple administrations. And in order to get this fixed, I believe I was on the right track which is working in a bipartisan way with Congress, doing what the veterans groups wanted us to do which is to strengthen the V.A. at the same time giving additional choice in the private sector and this is a very complex formula to move an organization this big in the type of transformation that it needs to undergo.

HAYES: You were on a phone call with the President. Is it (INAUDIBLE) IN retrospect understanding that was a call account the President was going to fire you and just never got around to it?

SHULKIN: Look, I don`t know what he is intension was. I take it at face value that he was thinking about veterans that day, picked up the phone to ask me a series of questions and then later on that afternoon, decided that he felt that it was time for a change. So but you know, I`m not good at the crystal ball game. I`m just -- I`ve been here to try to focus on veteran issues. I don`t do politics very well, obviously. But the important thing is that we have to get this organization working again.

HAYES: I want to pivot back to that. You just said you don`t do politics well and I want to ask about the inspector general`s report because the sort of -- the punitive reason that someone could point to that you were -- you were dismissed is there was an inspector general`s report that`s very critical of you and particularly your chief of staff for a public trip you took to England with your wife in which there were Wimbledon tickets that had been acquired, her airfare as well and travel paid for by public money, subsequently reimbursed. Do you deny that you did anything wrong in that trip?

SHULKIN: Yes, listen, here`s what happened. This was a trip of the five allies that had been going on for 43 years attended always by the United States as the major force in the allied forces. We had 40 hours of lectures. I did at least three hours of those lectures myself, a meaningful exchange. The only government money involved was a single coach airfare for my wife. She was invited officially. V.A. secretaries have always brought their wives who were officially invited. It was preapproved by the ethics officials. There were no surprises here. No one raised any concerns. This was done 100 percent proper. In retrospect six months later, when the I.G. looked at this report they found that the staff had made a mistake. When that came out, I wrote a check to the U.S. government and paid back every penny but there were no other expenses. The Wimbledon tickets were no expense to the government. They were a Saturday afternoon with our friends. No business involved. There was nothing wrong with that.

HAYES: Just -- I want to follow up because the Inspector General report did say that your Chief of Staff essentially changed records in an e-mail to essentially cover up the expenditure. Is that true? Was that wrong?

SHULKIN: Well, listen, if you change records, of course, that`s wrong. But the Inspector General report also said very clearly that I wasn`t involved in that. I had no knowledge of that. And so you know, I think that the Chief of Staff decided to retire rather than go through a full investigation. But look, I have, you know, I had very strong confidence in her.

HAYES: OK, your understanding and I think you said this explicitly, that the I.G. report and the stories about the trip were essentially an attempt to get rid of you by people.

SHULKIN: There`s no question about it. This was politicized.

HAYES: Who?

SHULKIN: The political appointees within the V.A. that did not like the type of progress that we were making.

HAYES: Did you know that? Were you watching this happen and you were saying the people who work in the building with me who are appointees of the President are actively trying to get me fired right now through this?

SHULKIN: Yes, that is correct.

HAYES: And who were they reporting to? Who was their -- why were they -- to whom did they report this to?

SHULKIN: Well, the political appointees have dual roles to the administration at the White House and also back into the department. And, of course, you know, you can`t run the department like this with people pursuing their own agendas. So this was a major concern and this is what I`ve been dealing with the last couple months which is why I said that it was very difficult to get the type of work done that we need to get done.

HAYES: There were stories in the newspaper saying had you essentially had lost it, that you had become paranoid, that you had an armed guard outside your door. What`s your response to that?

SHULKIN: Well, listen, this is just all part of the nonsense that they do in Washington. There were no changes to my security protocol. Guess what, everybody cabinet secretary has arm guards. We`re all in presidential succession. But there was no changes in any of my security at all.

HAYES: OK, if this is the situation, you are working in what sounds like a hornet`s nest. You`re saying there`s people that are trying to undermine you and to sabotage you. they are appointees of the President of the United States. You`re talking to the President. Did you talk to the President or Chief of Staff Kelly and say this is outrageous, I can`t work like this. This is bad for the veterans we serve?

SHULKIN: Yes, I did.

HAYES: And what was their response?

SHULKIN: Their response was that I needed to do what I needed to do to get the organization back on track. And when I tried to do that, there were people that were blocking that. So this was --

HAYES: But I want to be clear here, the President specifically. The President specifically said do what you have to do to get on track but did not intervene to breaking this bizarre standoff that you were happening inside -- having inside your department?

SHULKIN: Well, look, I wouldn`t expect the President to have to do that. The President`s always been clear with me that he wanted to make progress and make progress fast at the V.A., something that I shared. But you know, working in an organization where people have multiple agendas is always tough. I don`t think that this is unusual circumstance. But I think that in this circumstance, in the politicized environment that we have in Washington this became a pretty significant issue and one that I was determined that we were going to get back on track. Unfortunately, the President made the decision that he wanted to go a different direction.

HAYES: How did those people -- it`s final question on this and then I want to ask about your successor. How did those people get those jobs? Who recommended them, who put their resumes in front of the Chief of Staff or the folks in the White House to put them at the V.A.?

SHULKIN: Yes, the way that this works is after the inauguration, all of the departments get large numbers of political appointees sent to them. Most of them come from the campaign who are moved into the administration. That`s how we got all of our political appointees.

HAYES: Ronny Jackson, who is the President`s personal physician, was the President`s personal physician before this, he has been nominated to your job. He has never as far as I can tell been an administrator. You`re both if I`m not mistaken both a physician and have been a hospital administrator, had some familiarity with the difficulties and complications of that. Is your successor qualified for your job?

SHULKIN: Well, look, I know Dr. Jackson personally. He`s a guy with high integrity, very honorable man. This is a tough job for anybody to take on. This is the second largest department in the government. It`s almost a $200 billion budget with 370,000 people. Dr. Jackson I believe is going to do this with the right intention. He`s going to need a lot of help around him and a team around him to be successful. And I certainly believe that I will do everything I can to make sure that that is -- that he is doing the job he needs to do.

HAYES: But it`s certainly the case that if what you are saying is true and I don`t have an independent way of confirming, but if what you`re saying is true, that he can`t possibly succeed in the mission of strengthening the V.A. if the same people are there who you say are actively working to subvert that purpose so that the place can be privatized?

SHULKIN: Well, I think it`s clear that V.A. needs to rid itself of people that aren`t there for the sole intention of focusing on improving services and care for veterans and nobody should tolerate this type of politicization of an important department like V.A.

HAYES: All right, former VA Secretary David Shulkin. Thank you very much for making time tonight.

SHULKIN: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont who`s a Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, the former Chair of that Committee who`s worked closely on these issues throughout the years. What did you make of that?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, first of all, let me thank Dr. Shulkin for his work and his efforts to strengthen the V.A. He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times today and I think it said it all and he said it to you. And that is, this is not a personality issue, this is not conspiracy. What this is about in an effort on the part of the Trump administration to continue their efforts in support of the Koch brothers agenda who are now the most powerful political force in America to privatize the V.A. You just heard Dr. Shulkin tell you that the V.A. has a budget of about $200 billion. That`s a lot of money. And there are a lot of people in the private sector now who are looking at the V.A. and they`re saying hey, how can we make huge amounts of money off the V.A. by expanding privatization. That`s what this issue is about. Now, nobody should be surprised that this is taking place. You got the Koch brothers who are determined, this is their agenda. It`s not a secret. They want to privatize Social Security, they want to privatize Medicare, they want to privatize Medicaid. They want to privatize the Postal Service. You have a Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos who doesn`t believe in public education. So nobody should be shocked that the V.A., the second largest agency in government, would be subject to privatization. That is what the struggle is all about.

HAYES: What do you say to people who say, look, the V.A. is broken, we have this huge scandal in 2014, these long wait lists, it`s not functioning and you got to give people access to private care so they have choice and they can get seen immediately. What`s so wrong with that?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, what does bother me as you know, the former Chair of the V.A., I talk to a lot of veterans. I was just in the medical center, veterans medical center here in Vermont today. I talk to veterans all of the time. And you know what they say? They say, of course, the V.A. has problems, so does every hospital in America. So does our entire health care system which is basically dysfunctional. But given all of that, you talk to the average veteran, you talk to the American Legion, the American Legion just published a book talking about their strong support of the V.A. and their determination to prevent it from being privatized. That`s what the VFW, the DAV, the Vietnam Vets believe. So does the V.A. with 131 separate hospitals and many, many hundreds of community-based outreach clinics have problems? Yes, it does but so does every other medical system in America. And by the way, there was a poll done a couple years ago and they asked the American people, Gallup did, they said what are your favorite health care systems in America? In first place was Medicare and the Veterans Administration. They were at the top of the list. So our job and Dr. Shulkin referenced this, our job is to do what the veterans want and that is to strengthen the V.A., to make sure they have the doctors and the nurses and the staff that they need not to dismember it not to privatize it.

HAYES: Do you believe that Dr. Jackson is qualified for this position?

SANDERS: Well, I know nothing about Dr. Jackson other than the little that I`ve read. He appears to be a very good family physician and he has done a good job not only for Trump but for the Obama administration. But you just heard Dr. Shulkin saying something that is eminently true. And that is this is an enormously -- this is the largest integrated health care system in America, 350,000 employees. In my view, you would need somebody with a great deal of administrative experience, somebody hopefully who knows something about the V.A. But what I fear very much and this has nothing to do with -- I know nothing about Dr. Jackson so this is not a criticism but I think he is going to be the front guy to try to move toward privatization. And what I am urging my colleagues on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to do is to not support Dr. Jackson or anybody else who intends to privatize the V.A. That would be a terrible disservice to millions of veterans in this country who depend upon the V.A.

HAYES: Final question. Has -- did Shulkin do a good job? And we keep talking about strengthening the V.A., we know that there are this problems. Did -- have things improve? Does the trajectory going in the right direction?

SANDERS: I think in general it is. Look, he was under a lot of pressure. And at every meeting, there was always that debate between those who wanted to privatize and he was clear. He`s consistent in what he told you this evening. He wants to strengthen the V.A. but wants to give under certain circumstances and the devil is in the details veterans the option to go to private care. If you are living in a very rural state and you have to travel two hours to get to a V.A., should you be able to go to a community physician, of course you should. If you`re in an area where the V.A. is not providing timely care and you have to wait too long, should you be able to get private care, the answer is yes. But that does not mean to say you privatize the V.A.

HAYES: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for being with me.

SANDERS: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, the Mueller probe moves its focus to Russian meetings at the 2016 Republican convention and Carter Page is here to talk about it ahead. Next, Jeff Sessions announces tonight there be no second special counsel to investigate the FBI but the plot to stop Mueller continues. I`ll talk to Steve Schmidt about it in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: For months, President Trump`s allies in the Congress and media have been calling for the Attorney General to appoint a second Special Counsel to investigate alleged FBI misconduct. Tonight, Jeff Sessions announced he`s not going to do it at least not yet. Instead, he`s asked the U.S. Attorney in Utah, a guy by the name of John Huber to investigate the FBI`s actions regarding Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and whether the bureau followed proper procedure when they spied on former Trump Campaign adviser Carter Page. In a letter today to Republican leaders Sessions wrote "I am confident Mr. Huber`s review will include a full, complete and objective evaluation of these matters and upon the conclusion of this review we`ll receive his recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation require further resources or whether any merit the appointment of a special counsel. With me now is Cecilia Munoz, who`s former Assistant to Barack Obama and Steve Schmidt, Republican Strategist and MSNBC Contributor. And Steve, I`ll begin with you because it seems like Jeff Sessions is under tremendous pressure and basically trying to thread a needle here. That`s my interpretation. What`s yours?

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: He sure is. Look, and the pressure`s only going to intensify as this investigation continues to move closer and closer to the Oval Office. The one thing I suspect is almost certainly true is that there will be additional indictments that Robert Mueller knows much more about where this investigation is, what its focus is than we do. And that all through the time of Donald Trump`s presidency, we have seen revelations denied over and over again by administration officials, those stories fall apart. And what we see are this unusual connection between Russians, the campaign, the active measures under way to attack the country, the country`s election process by the Russian Federation. And so this investigation is deadly serious. It poses an existential threat to this president and for some time, we`ve seen Republican members, right-wing media attacking the special counsel, attacking the Justice Department, attacking the intelligence communities trying to undermine these institutions, girding for the political war that they see coming. Because while Robert Mueller knows what he`s investigating, on the other side, the President and his team know exactly what it is that they did or didn`t do.

HAYES: Cecilia, having served in the Obama administration which I really do think took independence of the DOJ quite seriously, do you -- are you confident that independence is being maintained under what looks to me like fairly clear assault?

CECILIA MUNOZ, FORMER ASSISTANT TO BARACK OBAMA: Oh, it`s very clear that independence isn`t being maintained. What we`re seeing is an administration and a president in particular who views the Justice Department as being in service to him as opposed to in service to us the people of the United States. That`s a very, very big difference. And the Obama administration, we had very, very clear lines to make sure that there wasn`t political interference with the law enforcement decisions made by the Justice Department. And that is essential if you`re going to preserve the rule of law. The notion that you have the President`s personal attorney, for example, discussing pardons with people who are participating in the investigation really is one of many, many signals that we have that this is a guy who thinks the Justice Department works for him as opposed to working for the people. You don`t swear an oath to the President of the United States, you swear an oath to the constitution and those lines are incredibly important for preserving the rule of law and they are under assault.

HAYES: Right, but they definitely -- OK, so they definitely are from the President. I guess my question is when -- you know, there`s a huge pressure if you watch Trump T.V., if you listen to the right-wing media, appoint a second special counsel, appoint a second special counsel. There was huge pressure to fire McCabe. They did fire, McCabe. My question is, is Sessions holding the line sufficiently to your mind?

MUNOZ: Well, it`s hard to say without being able to see exactly what`s happening within the department. But it`s very clear that official after official after official, when they go on television, they know they have an audience of one. They know that the President of the United States is watching and that he is willing to put public pressure on his agencies in order to push them not to be independent. And that particularly in these circumstances should be worrisome to anybody who cares about the institutions of this democracy.

HAYES: Steve, can I ask you about --I want to ask about the interview we just did with David Shulkin because it seemed to me this sort of to be a microcosm of the personnel management here in this White House. I mean, the president`s been you know, trying to get Sessions fired essentially publicly forever. We just found out from David Shulkin, the President calls him shortly before he`s fired, has a whole conversation and doesn`t tell him that he`s being fired. What did you make of that?

SCHMIDT: I make of it that this White House runs as shambolically as the Trump Organization did as crazily as any of The Apprentice episodes did. The incompetent, the chaos, the mismanagement, the corruption up and down the cabinet, around the West Wing, it`s unprecedented in the history of the country, unprecedented in the modern presidency. It`s not normal. We`ve never seen like it before and it`s extraordinary to behold. But for sure, it shouldn`t be a revelation that this administration functions at a perpetual level of incompetence that heretofore is unprecedented in the American presidency.

HAYES: Cecilia, what was the way in which the president you served handled these kinds of things from a personnel perspective?

MUNOZ: Well, with a lot more decency than what we`re seeing out of this administration, look, .governing is hard and --

HAYES: Yes, you fire people. You`ve got to fire people sometimes in government.

MUNOZ: Sometimes you have to fire people and President Obama did it when he had to do it from the perspective that really honored the people that he served with and recognized their public service. And that`s -- look, there`s just an enormous difference between the decency and the sense of teamwork that the Obama administration worked with compared to the dens of vipers that you heard Secretary Shulkin described. And anybody who cares about providing services to veterans, providing services to Americans, the government functioning well has to be concerned to hear a cabinet secretary say that the White House saw to it that his agency was a den of vipers and that the White House itself is like a den of vipers.

And when you are at each other`s throats in that way, you don`t have your eye on the ball. You don`t have your eye on serving the American people, and you can`t serve the American people well. And that is true in story after story and staffing incident after staffing incident in this administration.

HAYES: All right, Cecilia Munoz and Steve Schmidt, thanks for joining us.

Next, Robert Mueller is reportedly asking questions about a meeting that took place during the RNC between Russians and the Trump campaign. And Carter Page joins me next to talk about it.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: I`m just trying to get a straight answer. Like did you meet Sergey Kislyak in Cleveland? Did you talk to him?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: I`m not going to deny that I talked with him, although I will say that I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland, let`s just say that much.

HAYES: So the only time you met him was in Cleveland?

PAGE: That I may have met him, possibly might have been in Cleveland.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: After many denials, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page finally admitted in that interview that yes he met with Sergey Kislyak, the then Russian Ambassador to the U.S., at the Republican Convention in July of 2016. Page was not the only one. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator, and one of the Trump campaign`s top advisers spoke with Kislyak at the same event later failing to disclose the meeting during his confirmation process.

Now, special counsel to Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating those encounters, a source telling Reuters that Mueller`s team has been asking witnesses about the RNC event attended by Kislyak, Sessions, and my next guest, Carter Page, who joins me right here in the studio.

You`re shaking your head. You -- let me start with this, has Mueller -- I know you`ve talked to the FBI, right?

PAGE: Absolutely, yes.

Which has been disclosed, leaked to The Washington Post. That`s been out there. So...

HAYES: So, have they ever asked you about that meeting back in the RNC?

PAGE: I told them a lot of everything, you know, I had essentially been doing for quite a long time, including obviously you know everything in Cleveland. So...

HAYES: So you did talk about that?

PAGE: Yes.

HAYES: There`s a few updates since we last spoke on the first order questions I want to go through. And then I want to talk about your warrant -- your FISA warrant, and the fact that you`ve kind of won a victory. You got the inspector general looking into it.

So, the Schiff memo that was released in response to the Nunes memo, it says the FBI interviewed you multiple times about your Russian intelligence contacts, including in March of 2016, which is right around when you come onto the campaign. Is that true?

PAGE: Yes.

HAYES: OK, that is true?

PAGE: Yes.

HAYES: We don`t have any way of knowing it.

So, what was that about?

PAGE: Well, you know, let`s -- things will eventually be declassified, I believe.

HAYES: Sure.

PAGE: But it relates to you know not long after that interview where we were talking, you know, there was a leak about the whole male one situation where I was a witness to this spy case.

HAYES: Let me just -- so people know in the southern district of New York there was a case brought against people that were ultimately I think convicted, right, of being Russian agents and they refer to people they were trying to recruit. One of them is punitively you. They refer to you as male one. So, you`re saying it`s in relationship to that case.

PAGE: Let`s just -- yes.

HAYES: But that happens -- I just want to be clear here, because one of the things I think you`ve contended for a while, and your supporters, have contended is that it was the Steele dossier that essentially is what makes your life terrible, right? This dodgy dossier.

PAGE: That`s what happened before the election, right, 45 days before the election, there`s this is defamatory story that comes out.

HAYES: But that`s your perspective on this. And I know that. But I guess my only point is that this March 2016 interview is happening before the dossier.

PAGE: OK, yes. And I was a witness, yes.

HAYES: You talked to the FBI. Other thing about this period of time that`s a little confusing I want to clarify, the person that you say brought you onto the campaign, right, New York State Republican Party official named Cox, is that correct?

PAGE: Chairman of the Republican Party here.

HAYES: Right, chairman of the Republican Party. Sam Nunberg recently -- you know Sam Nunberg?

PAGE: I`ve heard of him. I don`t think I`ve ever crossed paths with him.

HAYES: He said that Lewandowski brought you onto the campaign.

PAGE: I have no comments about that. You know, the problem is.

HAYES: Wait a second. You told me it was Cox.

PAGE: Well, but he introduced me to people, let`s -- and I`ve stated that to the House intel committee, as well, yep.

HAYES: Point being it`s not mutually exclusive Cox could have introduced to you Lewandowski who then makes the ultimate decision. Is that a safe assumption?

PAGE: It`s -- I don`t assume anything, but there`s a...

HAYES; Well, did it happen. I`m just asking you.

PAGE: You know, here`s the problem, Chris. We`ve talked about this previously, right? Where people sort of make stories out of nothing, right?

HAYES: Yeah, I`m not saying it`s, like, incriminatory. I`m literally just asking a factual question, like who brought you onto the campaign. It was Lewandowski.

PAGE: Well, you know, again Ed introduced me to a few people and I had conversations with various people. Now, you know, in terms of campaign, remember I`m a volunteer.

HAYES: Totally.

PAGE: I was never paid one cent. I never gave anything to anyone in the campaign in terms of money or contributions or anything. So it was a pretty loose -- you know, it`s like someone volunteering in any campaign.

HAYES: So, there was -- I want to talk about two memos that you were writing back to the campaign. And I know how these circles work. I`ve been around other campaigns. There`s these kind of volunteer things, like, you`ll hop on calls. You know, campaigns will have like their telecommunication advisers, right, and then they`ll have a big call about like what`s our policy on net neutrality, that kind of thing.

This is sort of what you were doing.

PAGE: Sometimes.

HAYES: You -- so campaign adviser Carter Page presented before gatherings of the New Economic School in NES in Moscow We know this, including the 2016 commencement ceremony, Russian deputy prime minister and NES board member Arkady Dvorkovich -- am I getting that right -- also spoke before the event. In a private conversation, Dvorkovich expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to the vast range of current international problems. You wrote that.

PAGE: That may -- you know, I think that`s a little segment of a long, you know, relatively longer document.

HAYES: But that`s accurate. He did express strong Trump support for Trump to you?

PAGE: He -- we had a very brief hello, you know. It`s similar to you know, you mentioned Attorney General Sessions and you know Ambassador Kislyak in Cleveland. Those two, they walked by each other on the way out, you know.

HAYES: Right.

PAGE: Then Senator Sessions was walking out of that meeting that`s cited in the Reuters report. And that was it. And it was a brief -- from what I saw, you know, it`s a massive.

HAYES: I`m talking about you and the...

PAGE: Well, it`s the same thing, right? I had a brief you know hello to him as I was walking out. But I listened to him. He spoke at the same event where I spoke, right? And he gave a lot of interesting insights in terms of.

HAYES: The Russian perspective, totally. I guess -- no, no, no, I mean this about a relationship that`s deeply broken in many ways.

PAGE: It was more about ways forward for the Russian economy, and you know, the world economy if you will.

HAYES: I guess my question to you is like -- here`s the thing, here`s the thing we`re having a hard time on the outside of this. And I get it. I understand how people - - you feel like things get manipulated. But it like it really does seem like you`ve got a deputy foreign minister telling you he supports Trump.

PAGE: He did not directly use those words. I am interpreting a lot of things that I`m hearing from him.

HAYES: But then it sort of feels like are you like -- are you sort of inflating your importance back to the campaign?

PAGE: I think you`re not reading the full context of that. I was talking about discussions -- you know, it was input had I from a lot of people. You know, you`re cherry picking.

HAYES: No.

PAGE: You`re not reading the full...

HAYES: Carter, I`m quoting you.

He expressed strong support for Mr. Trump.

PAGE: He expressed strong support for policies that I think aligned well with some of the things -- some of the important steps, some of the important possibilities that were things that then candidate Trump was talking about.

But you know, it was in the macro...

HAYES: The macro.

PAGE: Well, the macro you know view of the world economy and the Russian economy. Again, this is a speech.

HAYES: Right.

PAGE: ...to graduating students at a...

HAYES: At an economics school.

PAGE: At a -- you know, economists. Right? So this is my interpretation.

I will also note, Chris, I wrote that memo.

HAYES: Yes.

PAGE: Sitting at JFK airport after taking a 10-flight and then flying back to London. I wasn`t able to get a direct flight. So this is just sitting in the waiting area, you know, right near the gate at JFK airport putting together some thoughts.

You know, the fact that I would be talking with you on national television, you know, almost two years later, you know, after having on a day where I`m traveling 8,000 miles and just putting out some you know, some basic ideas of my interpretation.

HAYES: Right, I mean, right. It seems from your perspective -- from my interpretation of your perspective, there`s a very profound sense of how did I end up here, right? Is that fair?

PAGE: Chris, there is a great quote from your book, right. You say -- for subjects of authoritarian rule, humiliation is the permanent state of existence, page 71. I mean, this is -- I mean, it`s just been a complete.

HAYES: You think we live under authoritarian rule?

PAGE: I think -- you know, it`s interesting, on your privatization discussion with Dr. Shulkin, there`s debates as to what should be privatized and what should not be. I mean, that`s a policy discussion. What`s interesting in 2016 is the CIA and the FBI, NSA, some of their key functions, not to mention DOJ, were for all intents -- privatized by the DNC with this fake dodgy dossier which is then leading to abusive process in federal courts. This is a really big deal.

HAYES: Let`s talk about -- your big complaint is that the -- and this is essentially the argument of the Nunes memo, is that the foreign surveillance warrant issued against you was wrong. It was improper. It should never have been issued against you, and that it shouldn`t have been subsequently renewed multiple times, right? That`s your contention.

PAGE: From -- you know, I can`t imagine anything which could possibly warrant such a warrant.

HAYES: Do you -- are you on the same page? My feeling about it is, I just want to know -- I want to read the warrant.

PAGE: Absolutely.

HAYES: Like just declassify the warrant. Let us -- let Carter Page and Chris Hayes and everyone else read it and come to a determination about whether it was proper or whether it was improper.

PAGE: Which is we`re completely on the same page.

And you know many people have been working on this. You know, there`s a number of non-profit organizations, Yale Law School, New York Times have a big case.

HAYES: To try get FOIA that warrant.

PAGE: Judicial Watch. A lot of people. So, you know, unfortunately, what we`ve had so far is some of the most disclosure has happened in other courts where you know, a billionaire Russians or multimillionaire Russians who are suing Buzzfeed are getting a lot more disclosure than even House intelligence committee was able to get for a long time.

So you know, I`m pretty excited that as more details come out, some of the court battles will start being handled more fairly.

HAYES: Final question. Have you talked to anyone in the White House in the last year.

PAGE: Not in the last year, no.

HAYES: In the first year?

PAGE: No. Not that I can think of.

HAYES: Are you sure?

PAGE: Not that that I can think of, no.

Again, I mentioned because it was forced out of me in the House intelligence committee with the, you know, in this eight-hour day where I`m just being grilled nonstop that you know, I had a brief conversation with Steve Bannon and you know things like that.

HAYES: He told you not to come on my show.

PAGE: It wasn`t your show.

HAYES: Oh, OK, OK. Well, I don`t feel as insulted by Steve Bannon then. All right, Carter, it`s good to see you.

PAGE: Great to see you, too.

HAYES: And I hope things go well for you. And I hope we end up getting to read your warrant. I think we`re both on the same page about that.

PAGE: I hope so. Well, there`s some talk about late July that there`s -- even DOJ is kind of talking about that. There`s been some reporting. So, we`ll see.

HAYES: You can come back and we can go through it together.

Carter Page, good to see.

PAGE: Great to see you, Chris.

HAYES: All right, ahead, did President Trump`s lawyer`s lawyer just make things a whole lot worse for himself and his client? That story ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve said that the president was not aware of the agreement.

DAVID SCHWARTZ, ATTORNEY: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was not aware of the money.

SCHWARTZ: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did Mr. Cohen tell him about this? Or did he tell him about it?

SCHWARTZ: It -- the president became aware of it much later on. All right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much later on?

SCHWARTZ: I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t know?

SCHWARTZ: Michael Cohen never told him about it, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The president`s personal lawyer`s personal lawyer has been making the rounds on television and appears to be making things worse for himself, his client and his client`s client.

David Schwartz says Donald Trump knew nothing about a hush agreement covering up an alleged affair between Trump and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, an affair the White House denies.

It`s a claim so bizarre it prompted a former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti to tweet, quote, "why would he admit this on national television?"

Here to help me understand what`s going on is Renato Mariotti himself, MSNBC contributor Sam Seder, host of the Majority Report with Sam Seder, and former assistant U.S. attorney Mya Wiley.

Renato, why did -- why were you so flabbergasted by that admissions?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, the agreement between Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump has a number of representations that are supposedly being made by Trump in the agreement.

Supposedly, Daniels is making the agreement because Trump is releasing his claims against her. He`s making various representations and agreements with her. There is absolutely no way that Trump could make any of those agreements or representations if he didn`t know about them. And so, essentailly what is -- what just happened on the air that we just -- we witnessed a moment ago, is the lawyer saying Trump was not a party to this agreement, which means the whole thing is invalid.

He`s really undercut his client`s position. I don`t know why he did that on national television.

HAYES: That`s a good question. We should say that in the agreement is David Dennisson. Do you agree with Renato`s analysis there?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I do agree. This is a bizarre. And it`s -- I mean, I don`t know why people go to law school because apparently it doesn`t matter.

(LAUGHTER)

WILEY: I don`t know what else to say about it. The new normal is so abnormal that it`s -- this is what we`re watching unfold is actually crazy.

So, who -- it`s a non-disclosure agreement. So the two parties are the parties with knowledge of the thing that they are not disclosing.

HAYES: Right.

And you can`t have that -- one of those parties not know about it.

WILEY: No, it`s an ethics violation.

HAYES: Right. Well, that seems one of the problems. And Michael Cohen can`t -- from an ethical perspective.

WILEY: If it is true. If it is true, it`s bizarre and hard to imagine. If it is true, it means Michael Cohen is in serious trouble in terms of his law license.

SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: I dropped out of law school after a year.

HAYES: Did you? I didn`t even know you even did one year.

SEDER: Oh, yeah, I did. I did one year.

HAYES: We`re going to start billing you as permanent 1L.

SEDER: That`s right. Exactly. And even I know that...

(LAUGHTER)

SEDER: A party to an agreement if you`re not aware that it`s being made.

I mean, so -- but I think what is happening is, they are trying to distance Trump from this and Cohen is willing to take the fall.

HAYES: Right.

SEDER: He`s not concerned about what it means in terms of his ethics and, you know, I think look -- and I`ve contended for a while here, this has to do with a lot of money that Donald Trump may have to pay out, there may be some stipulation to Melania in a prenup. And look, I have known people who have worked for very, very wealthy people and there are people around them who know I have a job to do. I`m going to do it. I don`t need to be told to do it, because I know this is what I do. I go and I do...

HAYES: Fixers.

SEDER: I`m a fixer.

HAYES: And so it`s possible but it would invalidate the agreement, and -- but I think the idea is they are trying to build some type firewall and trying to convolute things so that there`s no payout.

WILEY: This is where, though -- if that`s true, and it`s -- you know, like who the heck knows, right, that would be so short-sighted. I mean, at the -- first of all, the American voters voted for Donald Trump understanding he was a misogynist pig. Let`s be honest, right. He was -- Access Hollywood grabbing stuff.

HAYES: We heard it.

WILEY: We heard it. The idea that he was having affairs, extramarital affairs hardly the thing that was going to be be central to his administration.

HAYES: You and Y are New Yorkers.

WILEY: Hello.

HAYES: Every day of my formative years I would go to wait at a bus stop to go down to school with a tabloid cover covering the affairs of Donald Trump, like in a quite literal sense. That was how I came to know who Donald Trump was.

WILEY: Well, and so the point is if you`re actually going to be president, and you are going to surround yourself with people who understand the politics of maintaining your position, these are not the decisions you make.

HAYES: But that`s, Renato -- that`s what -- we are now at the core of this story that I don`t get. I just don`t understand their behavior. I genuinely don`t understand their behavior. I don`t understanding why they`re acting the way they are. I don`t understand why the president has signed on to a counter suit. I don`t know why Michael Cohen`s lawyer is going around blabbering about everything.

Do you understand? I don`t get it, Renato.

MARIOTTI: Well, it doesn`t make any sense in terms of legal strategy. I will tell you, Chris, there`s a real -- there should be a concern in the Trump camp right now because as this suit stands right now, there is going to be discovery. That means the depositions of Michael Cohen, of Donald Trump.

Look, Bill Clinton had problems when the Paula Jones deposition came around and he had to answer questions under oath. If I was on Trump`s side, I would not want him answering questions under oath. I would not want Michael Cohen questioned oath. They need to find a way to settle that lawsuit very quickly.

HAYES: We should say that Ms. Clifford, her real name filed for a motion to depose the president in a limited amount of time. That was thrown out today on procedural grounds, although it was procedural question the order in which these filings could happen. It still could happen.

Since we have the legal team here, I want to talk also about a bit of legal news on the Mueller front today, which is a story that CNN reported that basically the exchange that happened when Rich Gates was approached, this is of course Paul Manafort`s deputy, who is now a cooperating witness after going back and forth, that what they wanted him to talk about was not to cooperate to get Manafort, that they had Manafort, it was about the core question of Russian collusion. And even though that seemed clear to me from the beginning, if that reporting is accurate, it seems significant, Maya.

WILEY: Absolutely. I mean, what it suggests is there is something that the Mueller team has amassed thanks to Gates that helps connect them to Trump.

HAYES: And that`s the big question here, right, Sam?

SEDER: Yeah -- well, I mean, I think the issue is what did Donald Tknow? And what did he think was going on? I mean, honestly...

HAYES: Well, that gets back to the need to know question. Because I honestly think that -- and Adam Davidson who is a frequent guest on this program who has been writing about the Trump work had this tweet thread today, being like, you don`t understand. The Trump work, no one knows what anyone else is doing, because everyone is working on this weird need to know wink, wink, nudge, nudge basis weirdly so that you can kind get -- do some shady stuff.

SEDER: From whence he came.

I mean, there was a lot of very dodgy stuff going on.

HAYES: It`s New York real estate...

SEDER: It`s New York real estate, but also casinos. I mean, there was a lot of stuff where I think we`re going to have certain areas we don`t talk about and we`re going to have a certain amount of ignorance. And I think that has suffused his entire career, whether it was like his dad being the guarantor for deals, and probably him pretending like he didn`t know that.

HAYES: Right.

SEDER: You know, there is a whole litany of things like this where I think are compartmentalized, and so that wouldn`t be so strange necessarily. And I`m not sure that Trump frankly would even know the implications of these things.

HAYES: Yes. There`s an -- it seems to me in the way that he acts, Renato, the president, about all this, it seems a plausible story that he actually genuinely doesn`t understand the peril that he himself might be in.

MARIOTTI: I think that`s safe to say, Chris. This is unlike any legal trouble that the president has been in before.

You know, you have to think about the way that Trump thinks about lawsuits, is he thinks about civil lawsuits where people sue each other for money and there is a lot of motions that go back and forth and a lot of discovery and eventually people settle at the end. A federal criminal investigation is a very different animal. When you are in the sights of a federal prosecutor, you are very much in harm`s way and you need to try to -- you know, make yourself as small of a target as possible, try to be very careful about what you do and what you say, because you`re in grave danger. And Donald Trump, I don`t think, really understands the true peril that he is in at this point.

HAYES: I want to play real quickly something from the top of the show, this interview with David Shulkin, because I just want to get your quick reactions to this. This is what he told me about how he was fired. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: When is the last time you spoke to him?

SHULKIN: I spoke to the president yesterday.

HAYES: What was that conversation like?

SHULKIN: We spoke about the progress that I was making, what I needed to do from a policy perspective to make sure that we are fixing the issues in VA. Very focused. He was very inquisitive about the things that we were working on, making sure that we were focused on the job at hand.

HAYES: Wait, that`s before you were fired?

SHULKIN: That`s correct.

HAYES: You spoke to him. He made no mention of the fact that he was about to terminate you?

SHULKIN: That`s correct.

HAYES: And then you found out via tweet?

SHULKIN: Right before that, the Chief of Staff Kelly gave me a call, which I appreciated, gave me a heads up. And so -- but that was much after the phone call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: What the heck?

WILEY: Management by twitter.

HAYES: Management by twitter. But I mean...

MARIOTTI: Profile in courage.

HAYES: That`s what it seems to me. It seems to me that the call was set up to fire him.

WILEY: Yes.

HAYES: And he couldn`t do it. Is there any other interpretation but that that`s what happened?

WILEY: It`s a new version of presidential apprentice.

SEDER: But having had some of the experience as an actor, you know, that role he takes where he`s you`re fired, sometimes that`s what you do when you can`t really do it in real life, like this is all play acting and this is the little bit of cos play. I mean, that`s what it appears with this guy, that he can`t say it to somebody`s face.

HAYES: We know this is the truth about the president that the great irony of the you`re fired guy has a really hard time. But that sounds to me like Kelly set up, or someone set up to be like this time you`re going to do it in person and he couldn`t do it, which I guess is what it is.

Renato Mariotti, Sam Seder, and Maya Wiley, thanks for joining us tonight.

WILEY: Thank you.

HAYES: If you missed the beginning of our show, we had some really big news-making interviews including former VA Secretary Shulkin about getting fired by the president and Carter Page about the Mueller investigation. But do not worry, you can now listen to the show as a podcast, perfect for nights like tonight, available wherever you can get your podcasts.

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

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END