IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Pruitt got sweetheart deal from lobbyist's wife. TRANSCRIPT: 03/30/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Jennifer Dlouhy, John Podesta, Christine Todd Whitman, Harry Litman, Tara Dowdell, Angelo Carusone, Eric Boehlert, Karine Jean-Pierre, Chris Lu

ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES March 30, 2018 Guest: Jennifer Dlouhy, John Podesta, Christine Todd Whitman, Harry Litman, Tara Dowdell, Angelo Carusone, Eric Boehlert, Karine Jean-Pierre, Chris Lu



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to end the government corruption and we`re going to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.

HAYES: New allegations of corruption from the swamp of Donald Trump`s creation.

TRUMP: You`re right about the swamp. Say it again.

HAYES: Tonight, what looks like the most egregious abuse to date from a member of Trump`s cabinet. Plus, why Robert Mueller`s investigators detained a mystery Trump ally at an airport this week. New reporting on the drinking games inside the White House personnel office, examining the Trump fence in thing one thing two.

TRUMP: It`s not a fence, it`s a wall.

HAYES: And as advertisers pull away from a Fox News show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bully is a bully and must be held account credible.

HAYES: What is with all the vitriol aimed at Parkland shooting survivors?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the revolution.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Well, it sure looks like the climate change skeptic that Donald Trump installed to lead the EPA Scott Pruitt, took a bribe from the wife of a top energy lobbyist who gave Pruitt a sweetheart deal on a condo where he lives for six months last year. It`s precisely the sort of ethically objectionable arrangement that the President promised to eliminate when he took the White House. But instead of draining the swamp as he promised to do over and over, Trump filled his cabinet with swamp creatures.

People like Steve Mnuchin and Ryan Zinke who repeatedly spent public money for lavish and unnecessary travel and Ben Carson who`s currently being investigated for allegedly using his office for his son`s private gain and who by the way tried to order a $31,000 dining set for his office. The swampiest of them all is Pruitt, the self-described leading advocate against the EPA`s activist agenda who now leads the EPA, the agency he sued 14 times when he was Oklahoma Attorney General and who is now reportedly on the verge of rolling back rules requiring cars to be cleaner and more efficient.

Pruitt you see is supposed to fly coach when he conducts government business but he`s taken dozens of first-class domestic and overseas flights supposedly for security reasons though the security threat turned out to be passengers shouting at him over what he`s doing to the environment. And that`s just the beginning. The EPA spent nearly $43,000 to install a soundproof phone booth in his Pruitt`s office and Pruitt somehow managed to go through more than $120,000 in public funds last summer for a single solitary trip to Italy. Now, that cost is due in part to the 24-hour roughly 30-person, you heard me right, 30-person security detail Pruitt insists he needs which is far in excess of the security for past EPA administrators in which Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says Pruitt also used on non-official trips to Disneyland and a Rose Bowl Game. Then there`s Pruitt`s latest ethical breach which was first reported by Bloomberg and ABC News.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he first move to Washington, Pruitt lived in this apartment, the owner the wife of a personal friend, a top energy lobbyist who has multiple clients doing business with the EPA. Pruitt reportedly paid $50 a night to rent only one room in this two-bedroom apartment, far under market value. Similar apartments go for $6,000 a month. But sources tell ABC News he used the entire unit and that his daughter, a White House intern at the time stayed in the other bedroom free of charge.


HAYES: Now, Pruitt was getting the sort of deal that many people could only dream of. A fancy condo in a prime location where he could keep crucially keep his stuff yet only pay for the nights he slept there. that`s a pretty good arrangement. Oh, by the way, his daughter could stay in the other room for free and all of that for the low, low, low price of $50 per night. Compare that to say this cozy room which journalist Brian (INAUDIBLE) spotted on Airbnb which cost more than what Pruitt paid in an apartment he would have had to share with someone other than his daughter. In a statement, an EPA spokesman cited a finding by an EPA ethics officer which was we should note apparently dated today, the day the story broke, to argue there`s nothing to see here. "The Administrator Pruitt`s housing arrangement for both himself and family was not a gift and the lease was consistent with federal ethics regulations."

Tonight there`s another more odd twist to this story and I`m not sure what to make of it, to be honest. ABC News also reporting that last year, Pruitt`s security detail broke down the door of the condo when it was believed Pruit was unconscious and needed to be rescued. He was reportedly discovered waking up from a nap. It`s a personal nightmare of mine. And the EPA ended up using public money to reimburse the condo`s owner for the damage. Joining me now with more is one of the reporters who first broke this story, Jennifer Dlouhy. She`s Energy Environment Reporter at Bloomberg News. It`s a great piece of reporting, Jennifer. So you`ve got this -- it looks like a sweetheart deal, not a fair market deal that the administrator is taking advantage of. And then on the other side, there`s some business that the lobbyist in question has before the EPA that connects to a trip he took to Morocco, is that right.

JENNIFER DLOUHY, ENERGY ENVIRONMENT REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Right to some degree. So he -- one of the lobbyist`s clients is Cheniere Energy which happens to be really the first company that was exporting liquefied natural gas out of the United States. And last December, Pruitt took a trip to Morocco to tout the benefits of U.S. liquefied natural gas. Now, it is important to note that the lobbyist in question has said he didn`t actually lobby EPA and the Energy Department actually is the agency that really controls energy exports but that`s one of the reasons that this trip to Morocco was a little bit curious for every one of us who covers the EPA because it was a little odd to see administrator Pruitt being the ambassador for natural gas.

HAYES: Yes, just to be clear, the argument is look, this isn`t in the EPA`s purview. It`s an energy issue. We lobby them. But if it`s not in the EPA`s purview, then why is he taking the trip to Morocco to extol the virtue of American liquid natural gas?

DLOUHY: Well, I think that`s a real question that we still don`t have a good answer to. Maybe it has something to do with this, maybe it has something to do with his general interest in domestic oil and gas. Certainly, Pruitt is kind of on the front lines of the President`s push to embrace American energy.

HAYES: There`s a memo out that EPA release today. It was from a deputy general counsel to the general counsel that basically exonerates Pruitt and says that it`s a fair market value and as such, everything is on the up and up. The thing that`s odd about this is the memo is dated today.

DLOUHY: Right. So one of the really interesting things about the story is that there was no prior review. There`s no indications that there was any review of this living arrangement. Perhaps the administrator never thought it was a problem or would cause challenges down the road. It wasn`t submitted to ethics officers really until the news of the story broke by ABC yesterday. And it was at that time that ethics officials were briefed on the details of the arrangement. EPA staff actually had to go get you know, some of the documents in question, the lease and arranged -- the lease rather and the canceled checks, and so it was then really that there was this review that culminated in that memo that was released today.

HAYES: There`s reporting from CNN at this hour that the White House is frustrated with EPA`s Pruitt for the apartment controversy and Pruitt`s goose is cooked. Do you have anything on that about how this is being received over at the White House?

DLOUHY: Yes, we`re being told there`s quite a lot of frustration. We`re hearing that White House officials all the way up frankly to the president are frustrated by what they see is kind of an unforced error. You know, they`re frustrated by the bad headlines here especially coming on the back of so many other controversies. Not just those involving administrator Pruitt. That said, Pruitt is still you know, one of the folks that Trump most regards or most highly regards in his cabinet and he is again you know, this crusader for the environment deregulation and client change deregulation this President wants so he`s still -- he`s still -- his star still shines in some corners of the White House but there is definitely a sense of frustration over there.

HAYES: All right, Jennifer Dlouhy, thanks for being with me.

DLOUHY: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now is John Podesta, Chair of Hillary Clinton`s 2016 campaign and he also worked as Counsellor to President Obama and was Chief of Staff for President Clinton. And he just wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post called Enough is Enough, Scott Pruitt Needs to Go. Mr. Podesta, you wrote that before the news about the condo deal so let`s start with the condo deal and then work backwards to what you wrote in the op-ed.


HAYES: Do you think that scans ethically to you?

PODESTA: Of course not. I mean, I think the more we learn about it, the worse it looks. You know, I accused him of being in bed with the lobbyists. Now we know the lobbyists were renting him a bed at a discounted rate. You know, he was getting a condo at below market rate. They you know, cooked this thing up to pretend that they were only renting him his bedroom. But now we know his daughter actually stayed in the condo, as well. And you know, it`s not bad enough that that looks sleazy.

Mr. Pruitt spent $40,000 of our taxpayer dollars to fly first class to Morocco to support the export of natural gas which he has nothing to do with but the husband of the lobbyist who owns the condo is a lobbyist for the largest gas terminal exporter in the United States. The only one at the time he went there. So the whole thing stinks and more importantly I think Pruitt has just done a horrible job protecting the environment and protecting public health. The you know, issue I had focused on was his decision not to ban over the recommendation of his staff a very dangerous agricultural chemical that causes brain damage in children. So he`s just a mess and I think it`s time for him to get out of there and for him to be replaced.

HAYES: Where does he rank to you in this administration? I mean, there`s obviously been a lot of folks in different cabinet agencies who either have gad real ethical issues or seem to be sort of at war with the actual agency they`re running. Where is Pruitt in that list?

PODESTA: Well, you know, I think he is very high maybe tops the list of people who both have ethical challenges, have abused taxpayer dollars but also as I said, have taken and turned upside down the mission of their agency. And I think that really demonstrates the conflict he has that he`s working for the polluters and lobbyists rather than for the American public and you know, particularly for the health of the American people and particularly children. So you know, it`s some have had ethical challenges, some have done things that were really untoward not in the public interest. Pruitt exemplifies the you know, place where the beams cross.

HAYES: Well, so are you surprised, not surprised by his ability to endure? I mean, Tom Price you know, had a sort of down fall over the amount of travel he was doing. Pruitt has done lots of travel, racked up real costs first class, $120,000 to Italy, the $40,000 flight to Morocco. He`s now got this condo deal. He`s at war with his own administration that he`s running. How has he been able to survive?

PODESTA: Well, I think the one thing you have to say about Pruitt is you know, from his days as attorney general, he`s a man on a mission and he`s been -- he`s been effective at trying to tear down the protections that EPA has put in place to protect the environment and to protect people`s public health. And that was something I guess that is approved of in the White House. So whether it`s the now the new attempt to try to roll back auto emission standards which will cost consumers literally billions of dollars and expose more kids to the risk of asthma or whether it`s his reversal on the clean power plan or whether it`s you know, his decision not to ban this dangerous agricultural chemical, I guess he`s doing what the President wants him to be doing. And if you have to give him some grudging credit, he`s somewhat more effective at it than some of you know, someone like Ben Carson or some of the other cabinet officers.

HAYES: I think that`s probably right on the money. I have to ask this finally. I mean, you -- obviously, you were on the Clinton campaign and you ran against Donald Trump who relentlessly attacked Hillary Clinton and people in the Clinton circle for being corrupt, for self-dealing, for the swamp, et cetera. What is it like to watch these kinds of stories come out where literally the head of the EPA is renting apparently below market condo from an energy lobbyist and remember those attacks during the campaign?

PODESTA: Well, look -- you know, look, I think Trump has always been someone whether in business or in politics as someone who says one thing and does exactly the opposite. You know, he stiffs his contractors, he stiffed his workers and now he`s stiffing the American people. So his idea, if this is his idea of draining the swamp, I think all of Washington is going to drown in it.

HAYES: All right, John Podesta, thank you for making some time.

PODESTA: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: With me now, Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman who was administrator of the EPA under President George W. Bush. As someone who had this job, does this arrangement that he was renting from the wife of an energy lobbyist scan to you, is that OK, is that (INAUDIBLE)?

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, EPA: No, of course not. I mean, we did everything to make sure there was a good distance between me and anyone who had business before the agency. We were very careful if there was certainly lobbyists would never have a personal, that kind of a personal not relationship because maybe you know them outside of their lobbying times but this kind of thing where you`re renting an apartment and clearly getting it for less than market value. You just wouldn`t put yourself in that position and you wouldn`t have meetings.

I never was allowed, I talked to my chief counsels and my counsels, most of the chief came from New Jersey with me, and we said look if someone has an issue before the agency, you don`t meet with them. You have to be careful about that. I mean, you can meet with business, of course, when they have generalized things but if they have a spec issue where the agency, the administrator has got to maintain some form of separation so that you can be an honest judge when the issues come forward.

HAYES: You`re -- I keep wanting to ask someone who has had this job before and I have you here now about all these things I`ve seen. I just don`t know, right? I`ve never been the administrator of the EPA but a 30-person 24-hour security detail seems like a lot to me. Like, am I wrong?

WHITMAN: Yes, I mean, I had two. I didn`t have 30 with me full-time when I was governor. You know, you had four who traveled with you and had two that went ahead and somebody at the house but you never traveled with that many. And I certainly never had a private phone booth put into the office at EPA. There is a room downstairs at the agency that is totally soundproof if you need to be in that kind of a situation. But there`s so many things that are just counter to what the agency is about and what really worries me is the damage being done for all of us to all of us, to all of us. Just -- John Podesta mentioned the tailpipe emissions rolling that standard back. First of all, it makes no sense from a financial point of view because most of the auto companies have already planned for that. A lot of the utilities --

HAYES: They`ve already done it.

WHITMAN: They`ve already done it. A lot of utilities are encouraging people to move to electric cars. But we know that studies show that some 300,000 people a year in this country die from dirty airborne related causes. Do you really want to make that worse? It just makes -- the agency is about protecting public health and the environment. And I`m all for taking a look at regulations. There`s some that have outlived their usefulness. New technology has superseded the kinds of things that were required. But this is kind of mindless. Anything that had anything to do with Barack Obama, it`s gone. Good, bad, indifferent, we don`t care and it`s just going to do real damage down the line and that`s what`s so troubling.

HAYES: Should Pruitt have to go?

WHITMAN: Well, I don`t know who he would come in his place. That`s the only trouble. He`s certainly doing what the President wants him to do. There`s no question about that. He would have gone long since had he not because there have been enough stories with the travel and all sorts of stuff. I mean, he is not the energy lobbyist and yet acted like that on many occasions. So he`s doing -- I think he believes in what he`s doing, absolutely and I believe the President believes in what he`s doing. So he`ll probably stay there and I don`t know that you get someone else that would take a different tact with this President.

HAYES: Christine Todd Whitman, thanks for your time tonight. That was really illuminating.

WHITMAN: You`re welcome.

HAYES: Next a surprising development in the Mueller probe today. Another Trump ally reportedly detained and investigated at the airport. Tonight, he`s telling NBC News what investigators wanted to know and we will give you those details in two minutes.


HAYES: If you`re having a hard time following all the threads in the Mueller investigation, I have bad news for you. There`s a new character in the Mueller investigation. I present it out Ted Malloch, a professor who was an informal adviser to the Trump campaign, big Trump booster. And today he told NBC News he was detained by the FBI at Boston`s Logan Airport on Wednesday after a flight back from London that he was served a subpoena from the Special Counsel`s office.

Also, questioned on the spot in the airport. Malloch said agents asked him about Roger Stone and whether he`d ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London where WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange lived since 2012. Malloch says agents also searched his cellphone and he plans to appear for further questioning on April 13th. For more on yet another new character immerging the Mueller probe and where its headed, here`s Harry Litman, former Federal Prosecutor and Department of Justice Lawyer. First of all, how common is it to do this move where you grab the person as soon as they land at the airport?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, and you have an order all ready to capture his cellphone. They had totally done their homework, right. They said they knew he was a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. And then they begin to hit him with all these questions. It`s not uncommon. You want to initially question somebody when they are off balance. But it`s going to be coupled with, of course, the grand jury subpoena. And what`s significant, Chris, it`s -- you know, you`re right.

It`s a new thread but you pull that thread, we have a whole another chapter here, and I don`t think Malloch is going to turn out to be a huge part of the probe but remember what we find out from about the probe is only what witnesses or defendants let us know. And here we have Malloch who goes right (INAUDIBLE) and Cambridge Analytica and Roger Stone. It`s this breathless kind of new development that shows you know, Mueller is not thinking about the red line, the blue line, the yellow line. He`s just thinking about the finish line and plumbing the depths of everything that is involved here, I`m sure to Trump`s great chagrin. We`re back in Tom Clancy territory with a very rich complicated brew centering around the 2016 release of the WikiLeaks documents.

HAYES: Well, that`s what struck me. I mean, we`ve got the reporting yesterday that -- from a single anonymous source over at CNN that Gates was told when they were seeking his cooperation, we don`t need you for Manafort. We have Manafort. Let`s talk about Russia and the Trump campaign. Now we got this guy who said yes, they`re asking me about Roger Stone, about WikiLeaks. What that is indicating to me is they are on the scent of the thing in question, right, was there collusion, was there cooperation, did these two entities work with each other?

LITMAN: Completely, right? And as you say about Gates, we had thought he was there to stitch up Manafort. Now we have reason to think it`s all on the collusion side of things with Manafort and others. He was involved with this so-called Person A who is Konstantin Kilimnik that who people know was a Russian spy operative. We are down in the -- in the muck of Russian collusion big-time. And again, we only learned you know, the parts of the elephant that individual witnesses tell us but we know from these pieces that he -- that Trump -- excuse me, Mueller is very focused on the whole 2016 mess.

HAYES: Well, that`s -- I think that`s right and I think it`s -- you talk about the parts of the elephant, right, the sort of fable of the blind man with the elephant and these sort of -- that that`s how we`re seeing the Mueller investigation. I`m struck every time a new -- you know, George Nader for instance who was also caught in an airport. I hadn`t thought, the guy hadn`t thought of him as a key part of it but when you look, start to look into it, it`s like oh, he might be another sort of transmission vector here. It makes me wonder about the scope of this thing in terms of what we see and what they see.

LITMAN: To the extent you wonder, I would assume that it`s broad. Malloch is just a guy who turns around and starts talking. I`m sure there are other people who turn around and get a lawyer and go to the grand jury or fight it. There`s so much we don`t know even about whom they`re speaking with and beyond that, what they`re investigating. Again, I was really struck by how they had done their homework. This guy comes off the plane and they`ve got him chapter and verse and very much. The only reason to focus on this fellow is because of his ties to the whole chapter of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and Russia collusion and that`s a -- that`s a whole kettle of fish there.

HAYES: Harry Litman, thank you very much.

LITMAN: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, the remarkable lengths the President will go to avoid having to personally fire anyone and what we`re learning tonight about the drinking games being played inside the White House.



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


HAYES: And then you found out via tweet?

SHULKIN: Yes, 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: Last night on the show, former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin made a pretty stunning revelation. He said he spoke to the President on Wednesday the same day he was fired and there was no mention he was going to fire Shulkin. And later that day, the President fired Shulkin with a tweet and announced he would tap his own doctor to replace him. Not only does the President seem to have a problem doing in real life what he became famous for doing on T.V. but according to the Washington Post, the office responsible for vetting some of the White House personnel suffers from shortcomings that are among the most pronounced in memory.

For more on what`s happening inside the White House, Tara Dowdell, a former Contestant of the Apprentice and a former Director of Appointments in the New Jersey`s Governor`s office, Chris Lu, former Deputy Secretary of Labor in the Obama White House who also worked inside that White House for years and Betsy Woodruff, Reporter from the Daily Beast. And Tara, I`ll start with you. This is not a new thing but it just is amazing to me that the guy who literally became famous for saying you`re fired cannot do it no matter what. He was clearly teed up in that conversation to just say the words to David Shulkin you`re fired and can`t do it.

TARA DOWDELL, FORMER CONTESTANT, THE APPRENTICE: And he wasn`t even face- to-face. They were on a phone call. So that`s -- it`s easier to do it that way. But here`s the thing. I own a small business. I operate a small business. Unfortunately, I`ve had to let two people go in the course of operating my small business. And I will tell you, even when it`s for cause, it is extraordinarily difficult. But that`s what leaders do.

HAYES: That`s what -- I mean, there is no one -- by the way I will just say, I talked to someone last night who has a good sense of the President`s personality and said he hates personal conflict which by the way is extremely relatable. Like I find the fact that he can`t pull the trigger to fire anyone weirdly one of the more endearing qualities of the President. But Chris, this speaks to a broader problem which we are seeing from Rob Porter to the ethics problem in all the different agencies to the people who keep finding -- (INAUDIBLE) over at CNN keeps finding things in their background that get them fired because they had racist Facebook post. There is a quality control problem with people in this White House.

CHRIS LU, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF LABOR UNDER OBAMA: Yeah, you know, Chris, staffing a government is serious work. And it needs serious people. In this remarkable piece in The Washington Post today that looks at the White House personnel office, shows that they don`t have enough people doing this job. They`re too inex perienced. And they haven`t been vetted themselves, which is remarkable.

The Washington Post found that there are people who work at the White House personnel office who themselves have inflated their own resumes, who themselves have arrest records. And so Donald Trump can blame Senate Democrats all he wants for the fact that he doesn`t have people in place, but this is his own personnel office that is falling down on the job.

HAYES: Here`s another excerpt from that Washington Post piece. The PPO offices on the first floor of the Eisenhower executive office building became something of a social hub where young staffers from throughout the administration stopped by to hang out on couches and smoke electronic cigarettes.

You always want your personnel office to be the vaping headquarters of any administration.

Betsy what, did you make of that piece?

WOODRUFF: I was reached out to by a former Trump administration official who was outraged about it, and in particular was very irate about one detail that comes in towards the end of the piece. This is the detail of Katia Bullock (ph), who is special assistant to the president. She`s been in four White Houses. This is the fourth one she`s worked in. She`s a veteran. She knows how it works. And four of her relatives have all gotten plum administration positions during this administration. She says she had nothing to do with it. The source I spoke to said that they believe that`s impossible.

These positions that Bullock`s relatives got are great jobs. These jobs come with the same quality of health care comparable to the president`s quality of health care. Frequently people who get these jobs get security clearances, which can be worth tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in income after you leave the administration. Those clearances are really valuable. These jobs also come with generous salary packages. To have four of your family members get jobs like that in an administration when you are in a position that involves hiring people is something that my source told me would have resulted in congressional hearings if it was happening under a Democratic administration.

And my source is a diehard Republican. This is a former Trump administration official who said that if it was a Democratic president and we were getting this story, there would be hearings.

HAYES: That is remarkable. And it speaks to the fact as far as I can tell, and I know people that worked in the Obama administration, there is no vetting being done whatsoever. I mean I honestly think no one -- just basic vets, the kind vets that you used to when you were running the kind of boards and commissions office for the governor of New Jersey.

DOWDELL: That`s right, we would do three-way background checks on people, which are -- take less time. And we would do four-way background checks on people. And for people who we did not do background checks on, they would have to fill out that judiciary questionnaire, which by the way alot of people, who Trump has nominated, lied on their questionnaire and literally faced no repercussions.

So, even if you are being vetted, even if you`re actually given the paperwork of being vetted, no one`s actually checking what they`re putting. And then when they`re being caught, there is absolutely no mechanism from congress or leadership from congress to hold anyone accountable.

HAYES: Yeah, how did it work in the Obama administration, Chris?

LU: Well, it certainly didn`t work like this. We had a professional operation in presidential personnel. The Trump people have about 30 people there, we had multiple times that. We had people that had experience running large organizations, and we took it seriously.

And one of the amazing statistics is that there are over 200 key positions in the Trump administration for which there is no nominee. We`re in an opioid crisis. There`s no drug czar. The president`s going to meet with the North Korean leader. There`s no ambassador to South Korea. He just added a controversial question to the census. There`s no census director. And there are real consequences when you`re not filling these jobs.

HAYES: One more piece of color, Betsy, from that piece in The Washington Post what the personnel office is like in the White House. And January, the folks in the office played a drinking game in the office called icing to celebrate the deputy director`s 30th birthday where you walk up and give him a Smirnoff Ice. They have to drink it, which is like four or five years old, not to be petty, but that like that`s a little done.

But it got --

WOODRUFF: I thought it was a new thing. We didn`t play that when I was in college. It made me feel like an old person.

HAYES: But it gives you a sense of like what the operation is there. And I guess I wonder as someone who reports on this White House like what is your general sense of what the level of competence is generally in that place?

WOODRUFF: It`s not great. And part of the reason for that is that Trump has sent a message from the top down that the only thing that really matters is loyalty to Donald Trump.

HAYES: Right, right.

WOODRUFF: And competence is not necessarily part of that. I mean, we know that from the early days of the transition, there were signs in the transition team office that said never Trump equals no job. If you eliminated everyone who said they were a never Trump Republican, which is what the Trump administration did, you eliminate a vast swathe of the Washington Republican establishment.

OK, that`s what Trump campaigned on. Great. But guess what, the Washington Republican establishment includes a lot of lawyers who would have been the -- doing the legwork of vetting people to get jobs in the administration. All those resources were tossed out the window and the result is that you get a bunch of people who, while loyal, are not necessarily super duper experienced.

HAYES: Yeah, walking around vaping and icing each other.

I want to play this last bit of sound from Carl Higbie (ph), who is a particular sort of obsession of mine because he`s someone who got a job over at the Americorps (ph) agency. He got through vetting. This is the kind of thing -- this is just an example of the sorts of things this guy is on the record saying. Take a listen.


CARL HIGBIE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: The culture that is breeding this welfare and the high percentage of people on welfare in the black race, it`s a lax of morality.

I have somebody who lives in my condo association that has five kids. They don`t have jobs. They are there all the time. I bet you can guess what color they are.

I was called an Islamophobe the other day. I said, no, no, no, I`m not afraid of them. I don`t like them.


HAYES: That was on the radio. That guy was hired. When that came out, he was fired and then promptly hired by the political super PAC that`s working with the president, which sends a message about what they view as tolerable and not tolerable.

DOWDELL: Exactly. That`s exactly right. And this is what the problem is. Trump basically is surrounded and has hired racist homophobes, mercenaries, as I say amateur mercenaries, and criminals. That`s what this administration has come down to at this point.

And the double standard for everything this guy has said about black people literally applies to Donald Trump. Literally.

HAYES: A culture of lax morality.

Tara Dowdell, Chris Lu, and Betsy Woodruff, thank you for joining us.

Still ahead Laura Ingraham`s advertisers flee following her tweet mocking a Parkland survivor. She`s not the only one, however, the right`s contempt for the Stoneman Douglas students ahead.

And tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two, it`s a good one, starts next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, we`ve all seen how obsessed our president is with building a wall on the southern border. And he`s been very specific about the fact it has to be a real wall. We already have quite a bit of fencing along the border with Mexico, but, no, that is not good enough.


TRUMP: But they all say the fence. First of all, we`re going to build a wall and it`s going to be a real wall, OK?

On the fence, it`s not a fence, it`s a wall. You just misreported it. We`re going to build a wall.

It has to be built. A properly built constructed, designed wall, high, not a little fence like they would have.


HAYES: OK, so definitely a wall, not a fence.

But here`s the thing, along the way Trump got even more specific about the wall.


TRUMP: You think of a wall as a wall. But honestly, you do need some see- through ability.

You need to have a great wall but it has to be -- has to be see-through.

We want vision. We want to be able to see through who is on the other side of the wall.


HAYES: OK, so a wall you can see through. Well, there`s a name for a see- through wall. And that`s Thing 2 in 60 seconds.


HAYES: President Trump proudly tweeted on Wednesday great briefing this afternoon on the start of our southern border wall, along with several construction photos.

First of all, no, that is not the start of construction on Trump`s border wall. Those photos are part of a project in Calexico, California, It`s been in the works nine years, and it`s to replace a little over two miles of existing wall built from recycled sheet metal. And second, take a closer look at what they`re replacing the old wall with. Customs and Border Patrol calls the replacement a bollard style wall, a bollard is a post. So, it`s a wall made out of posts, otherwise known as a fence.

They are literally taking down an existing wall and replacing it with a fence, which is also another way of describing what you might call a see- through wall.

You see, in just over a year, President Trump has managed to reinvent the concept of a fence and gosh darn it, he is going to get that built.


TRUMP: We need walls. We started building our wall. I`m so proud of it. And we`re getting that sucker built. And you think that`s easy? People said, oh, has he given up on the wall? I never give up.



HAYES: There are massive systemic problems with criminal justice in America, of course. But every once in awhile there`s a story I find especially infuriating. And this is one of them. A Texas woman was just sentenced to five years in prison for voting illegally in 2016. Five years.

Crystal Mason has argued her illegal vote was an accident. Shortly before the 2016 election, you see, she had been released from federal prison, serving just under three years for tax fraud. Mason was released under community supervision, but says she was never told that according to Texas law, you can`t vote while still under supervision. So on election day she cast what`s called a provisional ballot and that decision has landed her back in prison for five years.

Mason said at the time of her arrest you think I would jeopardize my freedom? Who would as a mother, as a provider leave their kids over voting? The Fort Worth Star Telegram reported Mason was taken to jail after the conclusion of her trial on Wednesday. As a course, her small children leaving the courtroom, waved and said bye-bye, big mama.

Mason`s attorneys filed for an appeal.

Now, it`s clear that she did break the law as its written. And ignorance of the law is no excuse. So, what should her punishment be? Well, here is a similar example. This woman in Iowa intentionally voted twice for Donald Trump because she said the polls are rigged. She was sentenced to two years probation and $750 fine. Or this former Colorado Republican Chairman Steve Curtis, a talk radio host who claimed during the election that only Democrats commit voter fraud. He was convicted of filling out his ex-wife`s ballot in 2016, forging her signature and mailing it in. Steve Curtis also received no jail time. He was sentenced to probation and community service.



DAVID HOGG, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: She`s a bully. And she needs to be held accountable. I don`t care who you are or what title you have, a bully is a bully and they must be held accountable, and I think that`s really what we`re trying to do here.


HAYES: Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg is refusing to back down over his push for advertisers to drop Laura Ingraham`s show on Fox.

The controversy began when Ingraham mocked Hogg in a tweet, not for any gun position, but quote, "David Hogg rejected by four colleges to which he applied and whines about it."

Hogg`s response went viral quickly. Pick a number number, one through 12, contact the company next to that number, and it was a list of a dozen of Ingraham`s advertisers.

Since then, at least 11 companies have announced plans to drop ads from Ingraham`s Fox News show, again not because of a political position, but because she was personally attacking this kid who has chosen to get politically active, after, let`s remember, surviving a mass murder at his school.

She`s not the only one. It seems that huge portions of the right, confounded and threatened by these kids, and trying to create some alternate reality where these students are liars or actors or brown shirts or out for some more nefarious purpose than simply saving their own lives.

Joining me now, Angelo Carusone of Media Matters who has been tracking the advertiser exodus, Eric Boehlert of Share Blue and Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser and national spokesperson for

Why are people losing their minds over these kids? I really mean that.

ANGELO CARUSONE, MEDIA MATTERS: I mean, when I looked at it, this is actually not anything unusual for the conservative media. This is how they respond to everybody and everything, These kids have both attention and capability, and they can actually tell their story and actually -- and highlight it. But this is actually absolutely normal.

ERIC BOEHLERT, SHARE BLUE: I think what sparked it was the march. There has has been this simmering discontent, a simmering contemptuousness towards these kids. Millions of people show up on that Saturday across the country to protest both Trump and the NRA.

Monday morning, National Review put up a David Hogg as a demagogue. That was the sounding bell. So, it was a war all week on specifically Hogg, and so what -- the problem with Iingraham, was she fell into it. When the right wing picks a villain, they have to dehumanize. So by Wednesday, Ingraham saw him completely dehumanized and just jumped the rail into this weird social bullying. Had nothing to do with guns.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON.ORG: I think if you look at what these kids have done in just a little bit over a month, since the shooting, I mean, they changed the modern day playbook on organizing and creating a movement, right. They were able to get Florida to pass, the state legislator, to pass a bill and turn it into a law on legislation. I mean, that is pretty amazing.

The NRA -- let`s not forget, the NRA got dropped by Delta, by United, by Dicks. I mean, these kids are making things happen in a way that we`ve never seen before.

HAYES: I just want to be clear, Ingraham`s tweet, which was to me more petty than vile. I mean, just like what`s wrong with you? Like grow up, right. But it wasn`t disgusting what she said to him, but then there is like The Washington Times, David Hogg would have made a good brown shirt. I mean, that`s an actual verbatim quote of a piece.

This doctored image of Emma Gonzalez of -- she was ripping up a sort of target and they doctored it to make it look like she was ripping up the constitution. They become these sort of objects of -- yeah, like the two- minute hay.

Now, the thing that I do understand, right, is the idea that because you have gone through a horrible trauma, you are necessarily correct about what your policy position is, which I feel like people in the right feel like what is put out there. So, I remember there were surviving family members of victims of 9/11 who were for torture or for Guantanamo or for Iraq. There were people at the RNC who lost loved ones in car accidents or crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants who were for Donald Trump and for building a wall.

And I get the fact that because you have suffered a trauma does not mean you`re right on policy, right?

I mean, we all agree on that.

But the way to deal with that is not to go after the people that suffered some horrible trauma, like we did not see this on the other side. We didn`t see people going after the family members of the folks who appeared at the RNC .

CARUSONE: That`s right. This is who they are. I mean, -- I was thinking back when this happened, and did Laura Ingraham, has she ever gone after a child before? And the first thing that came to my mind was during the refugee crisis in Central America all those children were leaving. At one point she was playing footage of them moving and she was decrying the fact that we were giving them resources and food. And then she started playing the Taco Bell commercial, "yo quiero Taco Bell." Now, and her point was to basically attack these kids who were in extremely bad situations and saying it was our own policies encouraging them to do this. And that was not abnormal for her, either.

So, this is her default.

BOEHLERT: And Fox has found one or two -- one student in particular from Parkland who they have on a lot who --

HAYES: Kyle (inaudible), yeah.

BOEHLERT: Talks from the other side. I haven`t seen any liberal --

HAYES: That`s a great point.

I think to myself.

BOEHLERT: -- cut him out at the knees. I don`t know anything about his family. I don`t care anything about his family. I think he`s great he`s speaking.

HAYES: Exactly.

BOEHLERT: And let`s have a debate.

HAYES: Good for you. You feel differently about this issue. You suffered this trauma as well. You`re going to the White House.


HAYES: Go to it.

JEAN-PIERRE: And then he`ll see the liberal, yeah, hitting.

But I think the crust of this is that this movement is being led by kids, which we have not seen when we talk about gun violence, we talk about gun control, and they are getting things done. And they grew up in the internet era. Let`s not forget, they grew up reading --

HAYES: That`s the other thing.

JEAN-PIERRE: And let`s think about it, they grew up reading Harry Potter, which tells of students can change the face of history. And this is what they know.

HAYES: If you have ever been on a subway and been roasted by teenagers, or -- I mean, like that`s that`s what we`re all watching. And then there`s this weird, crazy jiujitsu mean you`re seeing emerge on the right, which is that the crud -- the shooter was like a victim of bullying.

No, this is like a real thing that`s out there. This like disgusting idea that the murderer was a victim of bullying and that the villains in the story are somehow these kids.

CARUSONE: Yeah, and just to piggy back off what Karine said, and it gets at that, too, is that, you know, one of the ways in which they are changing things is by leap frogging the traditional (inaudible). Like, they didn`t ask the NRA to change their behavior. They said -- we`ve already accepted that they are not going to do it., so we`re not going to bang out head against the wall. We`re going to bypass them by going to those that have some power over them.

And it`s the same thing you`re seeing here with Fox. They didn`t appeal to Fox News. Five years ago, you would have seen a petition, please, Fox News, do something to Laura Ingraham. But they bypassed it, because they`ve already -- they have accepted that they have to bypass it.

JEAN-PIERRE: They leap-frogged They went like totally passed us and said, OK, you`re not going to do anything, well, Fox News, so we`re going to get to where it hurts: money.

BOEHLERT: Right. And this is the problem now, because once these advertisers leave, they don`t come back. Rush Limbaugh has literally never -- he`s still on the air, he has not recovered in terms of his bottom line. Bill O`Reilly doesn`t have a job, Glenn Beck doesn`t have a job, Breitbart has maybe a fraction of the advertisers they had years ago.

so, Fox News will say, well, we`ll bring new advertisers in. Who is going to step forward next week and say I want to be on the Laura Ingraham Show? I don`t think anyone step forward in weeks.

JEAN-PIERRE: She went after kids. She went after a teenager in a petty, awful, awful way. It`s like 4.1 point -- it`s like, really, that`s the GPA that you`re going to go after. It`s like, it`s just so silly.

HAYES: But I also -- there is something -- yeah, I think you`re right. I mean, I keep coming back to like what is it about these kids that`s driving people so insane? And it`s the -- you`re right, it`s the effectiveness. I keep trying to like come up with some complicated --

JEAN-PIERRE: It`s just over a month. And look how successful they have been.

HAYES: After sitting and watching.


HAYES: You know, and the daily grind of gun violence in this country, murder after murder, suicide after suicide.

JEAN-PIERRE: Nothing happening. Nothing happens. A couple days of grief and that`s it and everybody moves on.

HAYES: Yeah.

CARUSONE: And I don`t think they are interested in persuading other people, though. I think part of what the right is trying to do is hold the line. And it`s important to go after these kids in that way, not to persuade the people that they may lose. They are actually just trying to keep their people together. And that`s really a testament to how effective these children have been.

HAYES: Angelo Carusone, Eric Boehlert, and Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you all.

Before we go, a quick reminder, my book, "A Colony in a Nation" is available in paperback. It`s out right now. And it has a brand new afterward. It`s about what Donald Trump means when he talks about law and order, and frankly it seems pretty relevant these days.

That is All In for this evening. Now here is Rachel Maddow.