Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: April 11, 2018 Guest: Michael Schmidt, Michelle Goldberg, Elie Mystal, Shelby Holliday, Charlie Sykes, Randy Bryce, Robert Draper, Mickey Edwards
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: He has so many missiles to launch that are as he just put it so nice, new and smart. Wow. That's HARDBALL, for now, thanks for being with us. All In with Chris Hayes starts right now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. Welcome to a special edition of ALL IN, day 447 of the Trump administration and that number may not seem significant but I have to think that years from now in history books are written of this moment, we may look back as on today as one of its most pivotal in a pivotal chapter of American story. There is just an incomprehensible amount of news producing seismic change about across the country, around the world and in the political party that the President has made his home and that currently dominates most of the American Federal government. Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is stepping down announcing his retirement from Congress at the end of this year despite denying earlier reports that he was stepping down, strenuously denying that those reports were totally wrong and off base there he was today actually saying yes, indeed, I'm gone. That was quickly followed by yet another GOP retirement which brings the total of Republican Lawmakers walking away from elected office to a whopping and we believe record setting at least in the modern era, 25.
Tonight, that same Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House for as long as he sticks around, is also one of several Republican leaders who gone to the White House to dine with the President, the man there in the center of that picture as he faces down an increasingly threatening investigation by Robert Mueller, Federal Prosecutors in New York who raided the President's personal lawyer's residence earlier this week in response, the President is by all accounts openly musing about firing his own Justice Department Appointees to attempt to shut down the probe. He even appeared to flat out admit some version of obstruction of justice in a tweet this morning and all of this is happening as that closes in as the Speaker steps down as dinner happens in the White House with the leaders of that party, the President has taken over and made his own and as the President is contemplating launching military action against Syria. So we're going to cover all those big stories on this very big night news we will have the whole team to help us do that.
NBC's Hallie Jackson at the White House covering the President's dinner there tonight, New York Times Reporter Michael Schmidt, whose been breaking major stories in the Mueller investigation, we've got NBC Pentagon Correspondent Hans Nichols on the preparations for a possible attack on Syria, Justice Correspondent Pete Williams, on what is happening inside the building there at Department of Justice as Trump attacks Mueller and Rosenstein, Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt on the fallout from Paul Ryan's from that decision today, we've got Steve Kornacki at the big board on the state of the Republican Party after a year of Trump and our own Joe Scarborough who generously stayed up way past his bedtime like at least four or five hours to help us make sense of it all, joining me here, right at the table a great panel, New York Times Columnist Michelle Goldberg, Elie Mystal Editor in Chief of Above the Law blog, Shelby Holliday, a fantastic Reporter from Wall Street Journal and you guys will going to stay right there, we'll get you shortly. I want to begin tonight the White House where at this hour President Trump is having dinner with those Republican leaders. Hallie Jackson, what's happening right now?
HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, call it what it is, Chris, hot drama in the building behind me because you have Donald Trump sitting with the guy who just announced he's no longer going to run for re-election and right at the table are two the other guys who are going to be fighting most likely to replace Paul Ryan, Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy. Scalise was kind of a late add to this dinner, Chris. You saw that photo that the President tweeted, everybody all smiles and a big thumbs up. You can see the President in a good mood with these guys that's because he likes to have these conversations. Here's what we are told. When it comes to the battle for who will replace Paul Ryan, it is as you framed it up potentially defining for the Trump agenda, how it moves forward in Congress, if in fact Republicans can hang on to the House, come midterms in just about six months from now.
Here's the deal, Donald Trump likes Steve Scalise, Donald Trump loves Kevin McCarthy. I was told by one source today that the two of them speak the same language. You know as we have reported and as I have talked with folks about close to this White House, the President in the sort of perpetual revolving door of who's in and who's out inside the West Wing, has talked about McCarthy to outside allies as a potential for Chief of Staff were John Kelly for example to vacate the West Wing. So the two of them have a very close relationship.to be a fly on the wall and that dinner would be real interesting because it may be partly social and I imagine it, it might be. Donald Trump has increasingly worked on his relationship with people like Paul Ryan with the guy that are the men that are standing there, but the other part of it is the backdrop to all of this. He has been venting to allies about the Special Counsel investigation and about his Justice Department.
But Chris you don't need me to tell you that because he's been venting openly in front of cameras unsolicited about all of this as well. The other piece of this is not just the Special Counsel investigation and everything happened with Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller, don't forget at this moment right now over in the Executive Office building across the driveway behind me, you have National Security Staffers working, people whose portfolio focuses on the Middle East working because there is the potential for this military strike after the President didn't just preview that missile attack potentially on Twitter today, really signalling that he wants to do it but he put Russia on notice. He's calling out Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. And so that is the backdrop to everything that is happening tonight. I will tell you that officials are telling me that working closely with international allies is going to be key here, Chris.
HAYES: All right, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson, we'll be in touch as events warrant throughout the hour right now. Want to bring in MSNBC's Joe Scarborough the host of course of "MORNING JOE", was kind enough to stay with us tonight. Joe thank you for being here and here's my big question about Paul Ryan, why now, why today, why now?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Well, you know I think Paul Ryan, I've known Paul since he was 22 years old. Always liked the guy personally, but there's no doubt that Paul has always been more of a policy guy than a political guy. There's also no doubt it sounds harsh to say but he was overmatched by the times. He was overmatched by a President who didn't respect the rule of law, a President that didn't respect the FBI, a President that attacks law enforcement by the day, a President that calls the press enemies of the people, a President that embraces dictators, a President that attacks our democratic allies across Europe and the rest of the world and Paul Ryan is far more comfortable talking about policy. You'll remember Ryan actually had to be persuaded to become Speaker of the House. And when he was persuaded, did he so on his own terms, he would not be running around the country raising as much money as past Speakers. And so this was a position he may not have been entirely comfortable in. I'm sure his dream job was being Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. But he was also one that he was just he -- it was an ill-fitting position for him. He was not comfortable standing up to Donald Trump and also, he wasn't comfortable standing up to some of the spending priorities of this Republican Party and this big spending Republican President that he's trapped and obviously causes concerns for conservatives like myself. His trapped record deficit increases on this country and I think causes real economic concerns for this country moving forward.
HAYES: Yes. Well, one of the things I have a hard time figuring out is I can't -- there's a mismatch between what the polling data says about the state of the Republican Party both with the President and Congress which is not great at all. But it's bad. But not like hair on fire disastrous right? And the way that Republicans on the hill are acting right now which is like a rudderless disaster like it just seems that there's nothing holding it all together at this moment. As soon as the tax cuts were passed, there's no project, no one knows what their -- what are you doing, what are you trying to do?
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, it's extraordinary. What I've never really been on - - let's forget about doing the right thing, let's forget about standing up for the rule of law, let's forget about speaking out against constitutional norms, let's forgetting about standing up for NATO and our allies and free trade and for lower deficits, if that's not what you believe in, OK forget about it but there should at least be somebody in the Republican Party cynical enough to say hey , I've got a really big lane, if I want to stand up for a President who's not really been a Republican his entire life who's out of control. I don't understand why Paul Ryan was not more comfortable being that person, standing up and speaking out. I don't understand why Kevin McCarthy or others have not been comfortable doing that. Perhaps we will see a bit of a skirmish from the Freedom Caucus if Kevin McCarthy does in fact seem to be the front-runner as Paul Ryan's replacement because like Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy comes from the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party and I've got to believe that Mark Meadows and a lot of other members of the Freedom Caucus will not be comfortable with him becoming the next Speaker of the House.
HAYES: It seems to me of a kind of symbolic encapsulation of this moment that Paul Ryan is going to leave and the one declared person on the Republican side in that race is essentially a Neo-Nazi named Paul Nehlen who tweets about the Jews in the media. I'm mean I'm not making this up, this like literally who of the guy is and --
HAYES: -- it's just like well that the fact that there is no groundwork laid, it just there's something sort of bizarre about him walking away and looking around and being like we have to get someone to run against that guy.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I let's bring it closer to home. You had Devin Nunes, go on Fox News last night and say that he wanted to begin impeachment proceedings against the Director of the FBI because the Director of the FBI is not kowtowing to Donald Trump because the Director of the FBI believes in the rule of law. Devin Nunes has done more to tarnish the reputation of a committee that until he became Chairman was known on the Hill, certainly during my time and even after I left Congress the House Intel Committee was known for being bipartisan, was known for putting country first. You know, Devin Nunes is only there allowing Donald Trump to do what Donald Trump does because Paul Ryan's allowed him to be there. Again, I like Paul Ryan personally but where was Paul Ryan's press conference after Charlottesville? Where was Paul Ryan's press conference after Donald Trump tweeted out Neo-Nazi videos? Where was Paul Ryan's press conference when Donald Trump was attacking the men and women that have protected this country for so many years, the FBI agents that protected us after 911, where has Paul Ryan been standing up defending Robert Mueller day in and day out? It hasn't happened. I don't know why for those of us who have liked Paul Ryan and respected him for years. That will remain one of the great mysteries of his speakership. I don't understand it and I never will.
HAYES: All right. Joe Scarborough, thanks so much again I really appreciate you sticking around tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: Well thank you Chris and congratulations on five years.
HAYES: Thank you. Thank you very much. Longer than a Speaker term it turns out. A big day on Capitol Hill as they're saying Paul Ryan announced his retirement. The latest on that huge ship I'm joined by NBC Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt and MSNBC National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki. Kasie, I want to begin with you , it's a weird situation because there's all these reporting throughout. There's report in December, he's thinking about quitting and his telling confidantes he's quitting his out and really strenuous denials from Brendan Buck, who's one of the spokespeople, other spokespeople, Scott Walker even tweeting out. What -- how did this go over today and what happened?
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, what else are you going to do to a certain extent in that situation if you're a staffer? These were conversations, it was no secret that Paul Ryan has been miserable in Trump's Washington no secret at all. And you know, I've covered the Speaker for I guess five-plus years now from when he was a Congressman to his bid for Vice President and now his time as Speaker in the House after the 2016 elections and you know, this is not a guy who -- he wears his heart on his sleeve. He does wear his heart on his sleeve and you could see that in the press conference today and people in Washington knew that he didn't really want to stick around. So there were a lot of rumors and in order to kind of keep things short up, they had to continue to deny, deny, deny.
HAYES: You can't, you can't, you can't -- once that rumor surfaces, you've got to be all in or all out. You can't be like well yes maybe he'll stick around. You have to be like no, it's not happening until the day you announce it's happening.
HUNT: Sure but he was having conversations with confidants and the rumors got around. That's reality of Washington. And he decided with his family over a trip to Europe over the last couple weeks and they said OK, we're going to come out and want to do this officially and that is of course when we saw this all unfold in public. And I think, you know, just to pick up a little bit on what you and Joe were just talking about, the values that Paul Ryan holds and that he brings to the table are simply fundamentally at odds with the values that President Trump as a person, not necessarily as a politician, but as a person brings to the table. And this is somebody that what Paul Ryan has forged a working relationship with this President, personally, they do not recognize each other. You know Paul Ryan was gentle when he talked earlier today. He did an interview on CNN where he said look, he's from New York, I'm from Wisconsin, the code for that is Paul Ryan is legitimately leaving Washington because he wants to spend type at least in part with his family. Donald Trump is somebody who has lawsuits level at him by a former Playboy Bunny and a porn star. These are not people who fundamentally understand each other even though they might agree on tax reform. Paul Ryan is kind of extinct in Donald Trump's Republican Party.
HAYES: Yes I mean although they you know, they did agree on -- they did agree on tax cuts, right, and they agreed on judges, they agreed on the deregulatory push, I mean there's -- it's -- that domestic, that part of the domestic agenda has been the Republican agenda. It's been the Paul Ryan agenda largely.
HUNT: Well and that's what has allowed Paul Ryan quite frankly to get this far. He has kind of swallowed you know his personal discomfort. I mean this is a guy who, you know, if you talk to people close to him, they will describe him as feeling as though he needed to be the ballast in the ship of state. And obviously, everybody has legitimate partisan and ideological disagreements over the foundations of policy and Donald Trump is Republican President who is going to sign things that this Republican Congress was going to pass. And to a certain extent, Paul Ryan decided he was going to cut that deal with the devil, maybe entirely. But the reality was, he was never entirely comfortable with it and he spent a lot of time focused on this relationship with the President, taking you know, calling him on the phone, trying to figure out how to make it so that he could have some influence. And frankly, he was criticized repeatedly and perhaps depending on your viewpoints justifiably for defending the President for arguing that you know, he was -- or stepping out of the way pretending he had not seen the tweet. But their arguments would be privately look, he was having conversations with the President and it would be much worse if Paul Ryan were not in that position.
HAYES: Many people have told themselves that story throughout history and history judges whether -- I mean, really honestly, judges --
HUNT: And they will. History will judge this. They absolutely will and you know, we were -- you're absolutely right in your kind of overall framing of this which is this is an absolutely existential crisis for the Republican Party.
HAYES: NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt, thank you for sticking around. Steve Kornacki is at the big board with a look what this does to the GOP, how the party has shifted and what is going to go on now with all these retirements. What do you make of all this Steve?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes Chris I think this is all part of a bigger story of the Trump era here, the Republican Party being changed because of Donald Trump and the Trump era. The Democratic Party for that matter also being changed. There are some deep divisions that are kind of long-term that are intensifying, there are some brand-new ones. Let me take you through how different people in this country are reacting and siding up. So first of all, we talk about the divide over race and American politics. Obviously a long-term story here in the Trump era. This is from PEW, they do this surveys, this is just a couple weeks ago, the most of the recent numbers here, you see that divide, this is a familiar one.
White voters now by double digits, they identify with the Republican Party, Black voters, Hispanic voters overwhelmingly with the Democratic Party. The problem here for Republicans is long-term, is that these two groups here non-white voters, they are getting larger in terms of their share of the electorate. This group White voters long-term going to get smaller, this is a trend Republicans have been worrying about. It seems to be calcifying in the era of Trump. There's also this, we talk all the about gender. Again the concept of a gender gap not new in American politics but how about this, in the Trump era, the gender gap is exploding. You see among men, Republicans plurality of men identify with the Republican Party.
You ask women, the margin is pushing 20 points for the Democrats, right now and Chris, 20 points overall among women a very particular group of women is really pushing that change, that explosion and that gets us to the next big divide, it's about education, it's about social clash really. Its' about -- we talk about this all the time. College educated voters, white- collar professionals a lot of times, suburbanites, metropolitan areas. Look at this huge change in the last generation and really the Trump era brought this on. In 1994, Republicans they owned this group of voters, voters with a college education by 15 points, it's flipped around completely in this Trump era. Democrats now with a 15-point edge among voters with a college degree. This used to be a bedrock Republican constituency. When we showed you that gender gap before, there it is really. Women with a college degree they are sort at the heart of this resistance movement against Trump, at the heart of the shift that the heart of this shift on gender, that's a huge change.
And then how about this, we said something brand-new, it's age, it's what generation do you belong to. Look at this, the silent generation, they're in their 70s and threy in their 80s, that's a Republican constituency, the boomers, Gen X, they are politically competitive, the millennials, look at that, Democrats with a 27-point edge among millennials. This is the only group, I should tell you, if you look at the electorate by age, only one group the Democrats enjoy more support than Republicans among White voters, it is millennial's, be the first generation in modern time the American politics where that is true. And also how about this, how about the gender gap among millennials. Millennial men identify with the Democrats by 8 points, women by nearly 50. Those are some of the divisions that Trumpism brought about.
HAYES: All right. MSNBC National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki at the big board, a lot to break down there. Thank you. Congressman Michael Burgess, Republican, representing the 26th District of Texas, he joins me now. How are you feeling today?
REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: I feel great Chris. How about yourself? Long time no see.
HAYES: I'm good. It is nice to have you back good doctor. Why are so many people retiring?
BURGESS: You'll have to ask them.
HAYES: Well, you work with them. You talk with them. You have conversations with them. You've got to have some sense. You work with them every day.
BURGESS: There are eight current members of the Texas delegation who are retiring. Texas is the second largest delegation in United States Congress, two Democrats, one running for another office, one just decided he's been here long enough, six Republicans, two were Committee Chairman who had termed out on their term limits of their committees, two got into some personal trouble and two had health problems. So there's a variety of reasons. But they all happened so close together that it makes it seem like a story.
HAYES: But since you mentioned Blake Farenthold, one of the people who got --
BURGESS: I did not. I said there were two with personal problems.
HAYES: I know who you're talking about. He's one of them. He should -- he should give back that $85,000 in taxpayer funded settlement right?
BURGESS: My opinion was he should have resigned months ago and this is -- let me just say I'm grateful that he's -- that he's recognized that and left and yes, he should pay the money back.
HAYES: Yes, I was going to follow up on that.
BURGESS: He promised to do so.
HAYES: Yes he said he's going to do that. He hasn't -- we haven't gotten that. That loop is not closed yet. Paul Ryan is someone who during the Obama years talked a lot about deficits and debt and how dangerous it was, it's something that your party is talked about a lot. The CBO putting out this projection just the other day that we're looking at what will be essentially record deficits for a booming economy that we've ever seen, particularly absent some huge war mobilization and I guess the most cynical interpretation is that it was a fraud all along. If you wanted to persuade someone that wasn't true, how would you persuade them?
BURGESS: Well look, you and I had this conversation ten years ago, I don't know, we might have. At the end of the -- at the end of the Bush Administration, obviously, the deficit had increased a significant amount.
BURGESS: But really it was baked into the cake that whoever was going to be the President in the next eight years and the subsequent eight years that the deficit was going to grow, almost in spite of anything that you could do at the discretionary spending level because of the amount spending that we the Legislative Branch has put on autopilot. I think it's wrong.
HAYES: Right, but if we take that--
BURGESS: I think we need to -- I think we need to bring that back on budget. We have to take tough votes. Those would be tough votes, it would be career ending injuries for some people but we need to do it. You can't argue --
HAYES: You think the Republican Party needs to stand --
BURGESS: -- 15 cents of every dollar that is being spent on the nondefense discretionary side and expect to balance the budget. It doesn't work. It doesn't work.
HAYES: I get that, I get that. But this is what it sounds like to me. Someone is trying to diet and they say, you know, I just I eat, yes, it's true. I do have a hamburger for breakfast every morning, but I'm also having this enormous meal at night, so like a hamburger in the morning doesn't matter because there's also enormous meal at night, like you got to control it somewhere, right? So you guys have control --
BURGESS: I don't know what point you're trying to make but it makes no sense. You know the problem is the non --
HAYES: I'll spell it out for you. I'll spell it out for you.
BURGESS: The nondiscretionary budget is what is driving (INAUDIBLE) debt.
HAYES: Congressman, Congressman.
BURGESS: We can talk about the discretionary stuff. I'll be happy to talk about that, but if --
HAYES: Let's talk about that. But why did you vote -- why did you vote for something that -- Congressman.
BURGESS: A year ago -- a year ago, I did try to bring back some of that automatic spending back on budget.
HAYES: Right but you voted,
BURGESS: We passed it by one vote in the House --
HAYES: You voted for the tax cut.
BURGESS: -- and failed by one vote in the Senate.
HAYES: Wait the second.
BURGESS: I'm sorry that that happened. I would have rather done it another way but it didn't work out.
HAYES: Congressman, this is -- this is what I hear. It's funny you said I'm sorry because I get a lot of sorry. Bob Corker said today, if the CBO scores work out, it's one of the worst votes I ever took. I remember at the end of the Bush years, Republicans being like we lost our way, we let too much go, we pass Medicare Part E, we spent trillions of dollars on war, then TARP happened.
BURGESS Medicare Part E actually saved money but continue.
HAYES: Right. But on the books at the time it was projected not, right? So the point was that.
BURGESS: Yes I wish the CBO would actually go back and do an honest accounting of what Medicare Part B actually delivered.
HAYES: The story -- the story that Republicans told themselves back then was, we fell by the way side, we just -- we got caught by the bug and now it seems like we're here again.
BURGESS: Had we had this discussion at the end of the Bush administration, it would have been exactly the same. The driver of our debt is the automatic spending if we don't pull that back on budget. And look, I'm part of the generation --
HAYES: Well, I would say this Congressman. I would say --
BURGESS: I'm part of the generation that's going to benefit from that. But we are taking more out than we're putting in and that's just not tenable.
HAYES: I think Republicans -- I think Republicans should take your advice and run on cuts to Medicare and Social Security because your right that is where the big expenses are and they should do that and maybe we'll --
BURGESS: Well its Paul Ryan to his credit articulated the premium support in the Medicare system which is exactly what President Clinton's Medicare panel recommended to him in the late '90s.
HAYES: Sort of.
BURGESS: I thought we would actually have that long before I ever came to Congress. It didn't work out.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Michael Burgess who is not retiring, he's sticking around.
BURGESS: Well, I'll be here --
HAYES: He doesn't have to pay anyone back any money. He's one of the good ones down in Texas. Thank you, Congressman.
BURGESS: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, Trump attacks Mueller and Rosenstein over what he calls a corrupt investigation, the latest on the Russia probe and what's happening at the DOJ next.
HAYES: We are back live on this incredible day, news day 447 of the Trump Presidency which brought a retirement announcement from the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a blustery tweet from the President taunting Russia and vowing to attack Syria and then kind of walking that back and talking about how great Russia is and the relationship we have is only bad because it's being investigated and there's big new developments of course in the on- going and ever escalating Trump investigation, including the story of New York Times the raid on Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's sought records on the access Hollywood tape, Michael Schmidt broke that story and NBC News's Justice Correspondent Pete Williams joins me now. And Michael, what?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT: Yes, still trying to figure out exactly what it is on the Access Hollywood video that they want. What is it about it? Because the narrative about the Access Hollywood video is that Trump didn't remember it, it wasn't something that was on their radar, just sort of pops up on that day in October and actually a remarkable day in October, that's a month before the election, the same day the Obama administration calls out Russia and the same day that John Podesta's e-mails were leaked.
HAYES: October 7th.
SCHMIDT: Yes and so the question is, is that what was Michael Cohen trying to do? We know that a focus of the investigation on him are these catch and kills, going out, finding stories that were going to be damaging to Trump, getting money to these folks to get them to not talk, we know that part of it is connected to the National Enquirer. How it comes back to Access Hollywood I don't know but this was something that was included in a search warrant, something that they had to get court approval for. This is not simply a fishing exercise, certainly not supposed to be a fishing exercise. So when we heard about it, we thought it was fairly significant.
HAYES: Well, but here's the thing. So who has seen the search warrant?
SCHMIDT: The lawyers for Michael Cohen have even it. Obviously, because Cohen was given a copy of it.
HAYES: And the people that produced it presumably, right? I mean, there's a small circle of people.
SCHMIDT: The feds, the feds.
HAYES: I guess -- I guess I'm feeling -- I'm trying to figure out -- I've got reporting that says it was bank fraud, Access Hollywood, payments to Stormy Daniels and also Karen McDougal, New York City taxicab medallions --
SCHMIDT: Also nondisclosure agreement with other women or other folks.
HAYES: That's a lot.
SCHMIDT: Yes, now, that's a pretty broad -- that's a broad swathe. You could you see why the President would not like what went on and be bothered by it. Remember --
HAYES: Yes, if anyone ever raided the three different residences of my closest business associate and lawyer, I would be bummed.
SCHMIDT: Yes, look remember the President has said very openly, vocally that he does not want Bob Mueller looking at his finances. This seems directly into that and we know that obviously this wasn't Mueller that did it but this is outside of Russia and someone else did it. So it's the Department of justice Essentially going past that red line that the President tried to create.
HAYES: Michael Schmidt of "The New York Times", thanks for being with me.
I will note that you don't get to unilaterally create red line in investigations when you're not the president. Everyone else who gets investigated by prosecutors find themselves blown around in the wind.
Pete Williams, you've been following the Justice Department reaction in all this. What is it like in that building right now?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are stressful jobs under the best conditions. They are difficult. They are complicated. And that's when you feel that you have your bosses at your back, so that is not the situation today.
Many of the senior people at the Justice Department come to work every morning wondering if this day will be their last. But you also - so there's a sort of a pall over the place, but you also have the day-to-day work of the government going on.
You have the environment division finding people and the FBI and the ATF and the DEA arresting people and charges being filed. So, to a large extent, work goes on.
HAYES: Last night, Devin Nunes, as Joe was mentioning earlier, essentially threatened impeachment - contempt and impeachment proceedings against Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray if they do not turn over documents.
Apparently, today, Rod Rosenstein showed Nunes, we think, was a lightly redacted document that is the origin of the Russia investigation. Do I have that right?
WILLIAMS: Yes. This is the document they said they wanted. It had earlier been provided, but the Republicans on the committee, Mr. Nunes, among others, said it was too heavily redacted. They couldn't make heads or tails of it.
So, what the Justice Department says it's given them now is something that is very lightly redacted. It only eliminates the name of a foreign country and a foreign agent because of the cooperation they were getting from another country, and so that is blacked out.
I guess, in its place, it simply says foreign country, foreign agent, but otherwise they pretty much have what they wanted.
HAYES: All right. NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. Thank you very much, Pete.
All right. A lot more to get to on this crazy day of news. My wonderful panel have been sitting here patiently and biding their time. I want to get your reaction to all this. We will have that right after we get back from this break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: Welcome back to the ALL IN. Special day 447. It feel like 4459.9 days of the Trump administration, but it's 447.
I want to actually before - bring in Hans Nichols who is our NBC News Pentagon correspondent to talk about what is happening with the latest planning for strikes in Syria.
And I want to get to that a second. Before we get to that, I just want to followup on the story there - the Michael Schmidt story, which is we keep getting these news stories about what the Michael Cohen raid was about. And you have a theory about how to draw it all together.
ELIE MYSTAL, "ABOVE THE LAW" EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: This is all about campaign finance fraud. This is all about election fraud. All of it.
All they're doing - basically, Michael Cohen is the Wreck-It-Ralph of fixers, right? And all the investigators are doing are following the path of destruction that he has left towards like additional examples of campaign finance fraud.
If Michael Cohen did what he did with some Stormy Daniels to anybody else, if he paid off anybody else, if he paid off anybody involving in the "Access Hollywood" tape, if he did anything as sloppily as he did what he did with Stormy Daniels, they want to know about it.
HAYES: OK. But my feeling about that is having covered the FEC and campaign finance stuff a lot, people don't generally get taken down. Like, it is amazing what you can get away with in violating campaign finance law.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL" REPORTER: They also don't really get taken down for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. So -
HAYES: That's a good point.
HOLLIDAY: I mean, in some ways, this is a new era. President Trump's inner circle has done a lot of strange things. It's got them in a lot of trouble, but it is all about the money trail, and that's particularly something we've talked about with Stormy Daniels.
HAYES: That point about FARA, though, is a great point because -
HOLLIDAY: Because it's a bizarre one. No one knew about it till this year.
HAYES: Well, but people have also been flouting it. And part of what we are seeing with Mueller, which I think is fascinating is, what happens when a prosecutor goes at America's elites the way that a prosecutor goes after everybody else in America.
What I'm talking - I'm serious about that. It is like, OK, these things are in the law and you've been hanging out here, Paul Manafort, for 20 years doing all your stuff and, like, doing stuff that looks a lot like money laundering and no one came knocking on your door.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: Let's not pretend that what Paul Manafort did is kind of equivalent to the ordinary sleazy dealings of the American elite, right?
I mean, I think that what you see with Manafort is -
HAYES: Yes. No, he's a special case.
GOLDBERG: He was violating FARA, but he was violating so many other laws as well. And one of the things that I believe we know about this raid is that they're also looking at bank fraud and I think evidence of money laundering.
And so, these are - again, this is not business as usual. This is not kind of him trying to prosecute people on a technicality. And again and again, you see these arrests and then when the actual indictments come out, they are so much more expansive.
Again, we see these raids or you see these kind of cases being slowly built. The indictments come out and it's kind of astonishing the degree of criminality.
MYSTAL: Well, Michelle, this is why people - why conservatives are suddenly fans of the ACLU. Right? They suddenly think that's a good organization.
HAYES: Lauran Ingraham has this tweet, I just love. It was like catch them. A prosecutor just bent on getting cooperation, you just do along. Yes, welcome.
All right. Hold that though. NBC News Pentagon correspondent Hans Nichols joins me now. Hans, as all this is happening, the president's closest business associate and lawyer is raided, the speaker of the House just peaced. They're having dinner.
And at the same time this morning, he is tweeting what can only really be described as taunts at the nation that we are probably about to launch some sort of strike at.
HANS NICHOLS, NBC NEWS PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's not just Syria that he mentioned. He mentioned Russia and he mentioned Iran. So, it's a pretty good indicator. This president is telegraphing pretty clear, even though he said he wouldn't, what his military intentions are.
Chris, I'm here the NBC News bureau. I'm not down at the Pentagon, which should be an indication that I don't think the attacks are going to be tonight. I'm not expecting any strikes tonight, but it's pretty clear that the only thing we really have left to debate on this is timing, scope and targets.
The timing, I think, we need to watch where Secretary Mattis is. He's going to testifying on Capitol Hill tomorrow at 10. Seems unlikely that there will be strikes in that area.
In terms of targets, just where are they going to go after. Not just the Syrian regime, but are they going to go after the Syrian regime when they're close to either Iranians or Russians. And that gets into the whole scope question, how many assets do you bring in.
They've got assets all throughout the Middle East. They have potential submarines. They've got the Donald Cook, a destroyer there in the Eastern Med. They have a lot of possibilities, a lot of capabilities. The big question of this is we don't know how Russia is going to react. The last time, the US, before they did that strike, sent those strikes on that airfield, they called out the Russians on the deconfliction line.
It's an interesting question whether or not they'll do that again this time, especially if the Russians are targets.
HAYES: That is a really important point. NBC News Pentagon correspondent Hans Nichols, thank you so much for sticking around tonight.
Do we have Malcolm Nance there on the other end of the satellite? We do. Malcolm.
Yes, I want to pick up what Hans just said. So, obviously, the Russians are very active in Syria. They are there fighting on behalf of Assad as are Iranians. And there is a real concern, right? I mean, we've got reports today of Syrian soldiers going into Russian bases that we go from - that what happens tonight or tomorrow or the day after means something really escalatory.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it could be escalatory in the way that Syrian forces are arrayed. And now, if they're in a dispersal regime, this could turn away from a single night strike, which we generally tend to do at about this time early in the morning, to a multi-day action because we have coalition partners that are gathering their forces together and coming in on this too.
If we don't degrade our initial targets as the weaponeers and targeteers have chosen them, we may have to go back and restrike.
However, if this is just a demonstration attack again, then it doesn't matter really what the Syrians do. But if they've moved all those aircraft out of the bases north of Damascus and over near Homs and they're all up in Khmeimim air base on the Syrian coast sitting with Russian aircraft, then we'll already have failed before we've launched the first missile.
HAYES: The question about what is being treated here strategically, about who will be killed, about whether those people killed will be civilians or whether they'll be combatants, what nationality they will have and then, of course, the question of all US military action, what comes after said action.
Malcolm Nance, stick around with the rest of my panel after the break. We're going to look at the blue wave that's mounting. One of the candidates looking to replace Paul Ryan and a friend of Paul Ryan joins me. Next.
HAYES: Welcome back to this very special edition of ALL IN on this very head-spinning day. Maybe the best adjective.
House Speaker Paul Ryan announcing he will not seek reelection in November. His first congressional district in Wisconsin has suddenly become a lot more competitive.
With me now from Milwaukee, Charlie Sykes, author of "The Right Lost Its Mind" and who has known Paul Ryan for a very long time, and Randy Bryce, one of the Democratic candidates running for Paul Ryan's seat. And, Randy, I'll get to you.
I want to start with you, Charlie. Your reaction to today's news.
CHARLIE SYKES, "RIGHT LOST ITS MIND" AUTHOR: Well, I was surprised that he just decided to do it now as opposed to later, but it was pretty obvious that Paul Ryan was not going to be the next speaker of the Congress.
And it certainly is an inflection point for the Republican Party. When you think about - it wasn't that long ago that Paul Ryan was the future of the Republican Party.
But I also want to say that you'll remember, Chris, that you and I were actually together in this way on the night of October 7, 2016. That was the day of the "Access Hollywood".
HAYES: I know that day.
SYKES: We all remember that day. But you remember that day we were talking about what would happen. And the next day, Trump was scheduled to appear with Paul Ryan down in Racine.
And I remember telling you that it wouldn't happen. It would not take place. I didn't know how it was not going to take place, but I knew that this was going to be a red line.
And that that Paul Ryan was deeply offended by the conduct and the character of Donald Trump. That Paul Ryan was willing to call out what he called textbook racism.
That Paul Ryan was willing to have press conferences about the Muslim ban and to say I am done defending this president.
And so, it has been extraordinary watching Paul Ryan then become the chief enabler, becoming the wingman of Donald Trump. But it was never a relationship that was going to work.
Can you imagine how excruciating, how difficult it must be to herd the cats in Congress at the same time you have Donald Trump on your back? And all the things you have to ignore, all things you have to excuse, all the things that you have to capitulate to.
And quite frankly, I hope that he's relieved that he's liberated at this point.
HAYES: Excruciating, I will definitely agree with that. Not as excruciating as having someone you love deported and not as excruciating as being banned from the country as a refugee fleeing war. One of two things that are happening to actual people also at this moment.
But, yes, excruciating for sure. And I'm thinking of now his watch is over in the "Game of Thrones." They can all gather around and he can be liberated, as you said.
Charlie Sykes, thank you for making some time tonight. I appreciate it.
SYKES: Thank you.
HAYES: Randy Bryce, you're running against Paul Ryan or you were running against Paul Ryan until today. Did you know when you threw your hat in the ring to be the Democratic candidate. And I should say you have a primary with a Democrat named Kathy Meyers, who is a teacher in your district.
Did you know when you ran?
RANDY BRYCE, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: No, absolutely not. And that was one of the things. When we jumped in and we talked about our mission was going to be to repeal and replace Paul Ryan, there were some people that stood up and they said, look, this is kind of an impossible thing. Why are you even trying to do this?
And come today, I mean, a few months coming on that we have been able to put together just an amazing coalition of people, we've been able to be put together some really solid fund-raising quarters.
And today, waking up, and I have to say too that the weather today was finally warming up. It was a spring-like day after suffering through quite a few cold snaps. And I don't think that's a coincidence.
But just today, finding out that half that goal is done, Paul Ryan has called it quits. We were able to push him out. And now, we can't hit the pause button. We have to continue and work just as hard as we've been getting to finish strongly past the finish line.
HAYES: All right. Charlie Sykes and Randy Bryce, who goes by IronStache on Twitter which is one of the all-time great Twitter handles. He's a steelworker. He does not have a stache made of iron. Thank you.
Still with me here in New York, Michelle Goldberg, Elie Mystal and Shelby Holliday.
It's interesting here. Charlie Sykes was Mr. Conservative talk radio in the Greater Milwaukee area. He's known Paul Ryan. He is a fan of Paul Ryan. It's interesting to hear him talk about him.
GOLDBERG: Well, I think that we should all consider the possibility that Paul Ryan deep down does not have the sort of integrity that a Charlie Sykes has, right?
I mean, all this talk about the poor battered innocence of Paul Ryan who had these ideals and had to bite his tongue about racism and sexism and all of the Islamophobia because he had to be the ballast in the ship of state, he did absolutely not have to do that.
And the difference between the Paul Ryan who was able to stand up to Trump on October 7th and the Paul Ryan who has completely capitulated to Trump after the election is that he thought he was going to lose on October 7th, right?
He saw political advantage in separating himself from Trump. As soon as kind of tying himself to Trump was the way for him to achieve his lifelong goal of reforming the tax code, to make it more advantageous to the rich and corporations and kind of set in motion a series of events that might then be used as a pretext to gut the social safety net, he was happy to swallow any amount of -
HAYES: Whether he was happy or not, he did it.
GOLDBERG: He did it, right? And so, I think that we all - this idea - this thing we keep hearing that his values were so at odds with Trump, nothing - I appreciate that his friends believe that, but nothing in his behavior illustrates that those values were of particular importance to him.
MYSTAL: If Paul Ryan was the man that we are hearing eulogized today, then he's a feckless coward because I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that Mike Pence can nominate reactionary judges and sign tax bills.
HAYES: That's the thing that's so weird about the whole thing.
MYSTAL: To me, it's not weird because the thing that Trump can do for the Republicans that nobody else, Pence included, seems to be able to do is to motivate aggrieved whites to vote their racial bias in elections.
And that is what Ryan and the rest of them are afraid of. Trump's ability to mobilize that group of people.
HOLLIDAY: I think Paul Ryan wants to talk about tax reform and he has no room to do it because you have a president who sucks up all the air. You have a president who drives the news cycle with tweets.
I have heard from a number of Republicans today that Paul Ryan just simply didn't like what the GOP has become. And so, this is a bad time for donors. It makes it hard to recruit other candidates.
And it also just leaves his big question. If Paul Ryan has no place in the GOP, what is the GOP?
MYSTAL: I don't like what my garage has become, and yet I'm not quitting my house, right? You fix it.
GOLDBERG: He is leaving, right? So, if he really is kind of morally offended by what the GOP has become, now would be the time to say it. But instead what he said on the way out the door is that he thinks the biggest problem in American life is "identity politics."
HAYES: I just want to say that, when you take a step back just for a second, there have been three Republican speakers in the last two or many years, one of whom was revealed to have been a child molester at the high school where he coached. He went to prison because he structured finances to pay off the victim.
MYSTAL: That was a good rule, though.
HAYES: The second is John Boehner who just was basically knifed in the back and left. And today announced that he's going to go lobby for the marijuana industry after a career in which he voted time and time again for stricter drug laws, higher drug sentences in a nation in which hundreds of thousands of people are in jail for the illicit drug trade. He is now going to get a very good paycheck (INAUDIBLE 1:21).
And then, today, Paul Ryan - I mean, it is remarkable. These are the last three - usually, that's a job you hold for a while. Like, these are the last three and this is where we are.
I want to go to two people who know Congress inside out. Robert Draper, contributor to "New York Times Magazine", author of "Do Not Ask What Good We Do Inside the US House of Representatives" and Republican Mickey Edwards, former congressman from the State of Oklahoma, author of "The Parties vs. People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans." He was a Republican member of Congress.
Robert, you know this House Republican caucus as well as anyone. What do you make of today?
ROBERT DRAPER, "NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE" CONTRIBUTOR: Well, here's what's been on my mind, Chris. It's that, in 2010, when the tea party wave was happening and all of these candidates were running and eventually becoming Freedom Caucus guys, they spoke rapturously of Paul Ryan. They loved this guy. They signed on to the Ryan Plan. They bought it hook, line and sinker.
They have deserted Paul Ryan. They moved away from boilerplate conservatism and left Ryan basically doing the only thing he could do, which was tax reform, which, by the way, was not in fact the raison detre of him politically. It has not been his lifelong goal. It something he now says was. But in truth entitlement reform was that. And he never was able to accomplish that.
This tax reform bill is not his tax reform bill. He wanted its centerpiece to be a border adjustment tax and that wasn't happening. So, it's not just that he and Donald Trump didn't get along. He couldn't his own conference. They drifted away from him as well.
HAYES: But here's the thing. I really want to zoom in on this. It's like - I keep - a feeling people are moving the ball. It's like, well, the old version of conservativism which was about like fiscal restraint and the sort of free market. But then, if you actually look at the record of W. Bush year, there's Medicare Part D, there was TARP, there was an enormous and expensive war. There were huge deficits and debt.
And then, now there is Donald Trump and he is so different. But we're about to have a military strike. There is a huge tax cuts for the rich, lots of deficits and debt and huge boost to defense spending.
Like, it does seem like there's more continuity in all this than people are admitting.
DRAPER: Yes. No, I think that's right. And I also think that - that when Trump became president, the big question on the Hill from conserves was, what does this man believe? And when it became clear that he - his beliefs changed minute by minute, then the question became what can we actually accomplish?
And that's where you see the continuity that you've just described, Chris. I mean I think that - throughout it all, to be fair to Paul Ryan, he has had the kind of mournful smile of someone who has been told that his family dog has cancer for years throughout all of these things.
I mean, he really has been a deficit hawk. But, unfortunately, his legacy will now be that by 2020, under his watch the Republicans will produce the $1 trillion deficit.
HAYES: He has called himself a deficit hawk for sure. Robert Draper, who is phenomenal writer as well as being a great reporter, with the turn of phrase about the cancerous dog.
Mickey Edwards, what do you make of today?
MICKEY EDWARDS, FORMER CONGRESSMAN FROM OKLAHOMA: I've been listening to the show, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you.
EDWARDS: There is a lot of trying to make Paul Ryan look good. I thought Paul was a good man. I thought he was a smart man, articulate. But he has been a terrible disappointment.
And what we're hearing now - nobody is talking about the fact that he has allowed the House of Representatives to become totally irrelevant on his watch. So, Paul Ryan and the members of the Republican conference and the man on the street all find out what our government is doing the same way. And at the same time, they read it in the paper.
So, now we're talking about a military strike that is not authorized by Congress. And you haven't heard a word. Paul Ryan, the speaker of an equal branch of government, hasn't opened his mouth.
Yes, it's great. So, you get a tax bill or whatever. But at some point, you have to stand up. There is no tax bill that has ever been proposed that is worth putting up with what this president is doing.
And it seems as though Paul Ryan is only one of the Republicans in Congress who have completely abandoned their principles, completely abandoned their obligations, who have completely abandoned the idea that there are moral things to do when you hold public office.
I'm not sorry to see him leave except Kevin McCarthy would be worse. So, it's bad and it can get worse.
HAYES: Mickey Edwards, thank you for that. That was a great point. The diminution of the House of Representatives.
Still with me Michelle Goldberg, Elie Mystal, Shelby Holliday and Malcolm Nance.
Malcolm, that point that Mickey just said there about the participation of the branches of government in war-making in America. I mean, people talking about military strikes. We have been striking Syria up and down the wazoo for years. We just haven't been going after Assad.
We have been bombing the populace. And when the bombs fall there, like Syrians die. Many of them civilians. So, that's been happening. It is amazing how removed Congress seems from all of it.
NANCE: Yes. Congress has essentially devolved into a situation where they view actions against Syria and other parts around the Middle East as sort of like the way that we were doing with Saddam Hussein and the no-fly zones.
Every once in a while, like every 72 hours, the United States does an air strike. I think that is dangerous. I think we need to get back into war declarations. If you are doing this, commit the full effort of the United States in. Don't sell short our men and women who are on the front lines.
HAYES: It is surreal to think about that as the backdrop for everything that we're watching play out.
MYSTAL: There is a third branch of government, too, right? And I think it's just worth remembering that what started the potential strikes in Syria, it's Trump likely - I mean, either it's the actual raid of Michael Cohen, but let's give him the benefit of doubt for that. It's Trump watching pictures of dead and dying children on television.
Well, there is a way to stop that too. Next week, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on the travel ban case. And if Donald Trump wants to stop the death of children, then let them in the country. That's the way that we can do it without dropping a bomb on anybody.
HAYES: It's very true that if your first concern is humanitarian, then you can do things -
GOLDBERG: Well, come on. Nobody think that Trump's first is humanitarian.
HAYES: Of course. Right, right. No. That is true.
MYSTAL: You think it's a wag the dog, stop the raid.
GOLDBERG: To me, the question is whether it's just about him feeling like he has to feel strong or feel like he has done something, and so these are going to be strikes like the last round of strikes, which are basically - allow him to change the headlines for a bit, but are not actually intended to alter the balance of power on the ground.
MYSTAL: Very clear with that.
GOLDBERG: Or whether it's going to be a more substantial intervention. I mean, that's the question right now. And I don't think he wants a more international intervention, but I also don't think he is in control of the process.
HOLLIDAY: I agree with that. And I also think - I think retaliatory strike against a Syrian air base is one things and Congress was OK with it. But if you're going after Russia now in Syria and you do not have Congress' approval, this could escalate into a whole another type of conflict. And that would be a huge problem.
And then, you heard the president on Twitter this morning, he can't make up his mind, is Russia our friend, do we need to go after them, should they be on notice.
I think one of the most interesting things he said this morning also was Russia needs help with their economy. You know, in the midst of this whole warmongering on -
HAYES: After his government -
HOLLIDAY: - Twitter today, yes.
HAYES: One of the most dominant themes of the Trump tenure is that he is like a cable news commentator on his own administration. Like, it was his treasury department that released the sanctions that tanked the ruble that sunk Oleg Deripaska.
HOLLIDAY: But he's saying we have no reason to have a conflict with Russia.
HAYES: But he's sitting there with the guy at the bar, the person you, dear viewer, who love watching the television yelling at the screen, and in some ways -
GOLDBERG: As if he has no role in it.
HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) and part of it is because he has no - not a scintilla of manifested interest in the work of governing. And so, because he has none of that, it is done by other people. He still tweets.
And in some ways, there are ways in which that has been kind of - I think has saved the union, but there are ways in which it's inordinately dangerous. And I worry about when we will pay the bill for that.
Michelle Goldberg, Elie Mystal, Shelby Holliday and Malcolm Nance, thanks for joining me tonight. That is ALL IN for this evening. "The Rachel Maddow Show" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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