Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 1, 2018 Guest: Robert Bennett, David Leonhardt, Harry Litman, Carol Leonnig, Mazie Hirono
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- Trump gives back. It's most likely to be what his former associates will say about him and that may have already happened. And that's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL, RUSSIA PROBE: In the end, it is not only what we do, but how we do it.
HAYES: The clearest window yet into the Russia probe and signs that Mueller already has evidence of collusion.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russian collusion. Give me a break.
HAYES: What it means for the future of the investigation and Trump's curious new stands on obstruction of justice.
TRUMP: I did you a great favor when I fired this guy.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: They can't even resist leaking their own drafts.
HAYES: House Republicans draft articles of impeachment for the Deputy Attorney General.
ROSENSTEIN: I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going be extorted.
HAYES: Plus, two of Scott Pruitt's top aides quit amid growing ethics investigation. And Trump's former doctor says he was raided by Trump's long-time bodyguard.
HAROLD BORNSTEIN, FORMER DOCTOR OF DONALD TRUMP: Well, all his medical records, pictures, anything they could find.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 49 questions for the President of the United States leaked to the New York Times reveal the scope and the seriousness of the legal peril the President now faces. And that might explain why the President and his staff set to work today to try to mislead the public about Mueller's questions. Questions which cover both, both the President's efforts to interfere in the Justice Department's investigation and the numerous established documented contacts between his associates and Russian operatives. The President tweeted first thing this morning, so disgraceful the questions concerning the Russian witch hunt were leaked to the media. No questions on collusion. Oh, I see. You have a made up phony crime, collusion that never existed and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice." First of all, the leak appears to have originated with the President's own legal team. More on that in a minute. And second, the list includes over a dozen questions about collusion. Nevertheless, White House officials got in on the act too insisting there's really nothing to see here.
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RAJ SHAH, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: The overwhelming majority of those questions don't focus on the underlying premise of this special counsel which was to focus on this issue of collusion with the Russian government. There's been over a year of investigation. There have been dozens of witnesses, thousands of documents, millions actually of pages of documents provided and zero evidence, not a shed of evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government.
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HAYES: Well, actually, we've already seen a ton of evidence of collusion and Mueller's questions indicate it's all very much a focus of his investigation. There are questions about, for instance, the Trump Tower Meeting and the Trump family's relationship to Russian oligarchs, about Jared Kushner's efforts to set up a Russian back channel, remember that, during the transition? Also about Roger Stone's outreach to WikiLeaks during the campaign among other topics. One question, in particular, suggests Mueller may know a whole lot more than the rest of us. "What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign including by Paul Manafort to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?" That's kind of collusiony. There's no public information to date on any such outreach by Manafort or the campaign. Asked today why the President lied about the collusion questions, the White House declined to provide an explanation.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's talked about how none of these questions relate to collusion. That's not true. Over a dozen of them do. We've talked about accuracy from the President in the past. Why is he mischaracterizing these reports?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Once again, I'm not going to get into the back and forth on matters involving the special counsel and I would refer you --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not involving the Special Counsel.
SANDERS: It certainly has implications with the special counsel and I'm not going to get into a back and forth on that. I refer you to the President's personal attorney.
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HAYES: Now, here's a really important point. There is no reason to believe this list of 49 questions that was acquired by the New York Times that that was a list (INAUDIBLE) the President is comprehensive. Mueller's investigators shared them with the president's legal team at a meeting in early March to discuss the terms of a presidential interview. The President's lawyers reportedly wrote the questions down and then that document was provided to the Times by a person outside Trump's legal team. But that does not mean the special counsel's team revealed all this in their hand. And if the President's lawyers now led by Rudy Giuliani were the ones responsible for the leak ultimately, they would have an interest in withholding any questions that might incriminate their client. Regardless, the President's attitude toward Robert Mueller appears to have shifted since his lawyers were given the questions in early March. He flipped, the President did from publicly crowing about his eagerness to sit down for an interview too for the very first time attacking Mueller by name on Twitter. Robert Bennett is a former Federal Prosecutor who represented President Bill Clinton when he was sued by Paula Jones. Bob, as one of the very few people any this world who have represented a President facing a very high stakes interrogation ultimately, what do you make of these questions?
ROBERT BENNETT, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it's very clear when you read the questions that they're trying to -- Mr. Mueller is trying to get into the head of the President. He's trying to determine what was his intent and what was his knowledge. That's the thrust of all the questions.
HAYES: What do you see as the risks for the President as represented in these questions?
BENNETT: Well, I mean, the risk is that it shows that Mueller has got a lot of evidence and I think the President would be very foolish to sit down and be interviewed on these questions because it's the follow-through questions that could be so damaging to him.
HAYES: What do you mean by that?
BENNETT: Well, he'll answer a question and then they'll say but what about this, what about that? And my guess is there is not a person, the President, who can be really prepared for an interrogation by very sophisticated prosecutors.
HAYES: I want to circle back to something you said. You read these questions as showing that Mueller has a lot of evidence. Why is that?
BENNETT: Well, the thrust of the questions assumes certain facts. And they say many times what did you think about the fact -- what did you know, what did you -- the questions assume a lot of factual information.
HAYES: So if President Trump were your client and you were directing his legal team, you're telling me you would advise him not to sit for an interview with Robert Mueller?
BENNETT: That's correct.
HAYES: And then what would happen? I mean, in the case of Bill Clinton, if I'm not mistaken, his testimony in that deposition in the Paula Jones suit was ultimately compelled, that you declined that your client, Bill Clinton declined to voluntarily sit and then he was subpoenaed. Is that right?
BENNETT: No, that's not right. He was subpoenaed in another proceeding. The President of the United States though has a hard time to refuse, but I think in this case, President Trump should because many of the underlying charges that Mr. Mueller is looking at could be difficult to prove. But if he lies to Mueller, if he disassembles, one of the easiest charges for a prosecutor to make is false statement. So I think that is the enormous risk to the President if he -- if he sits down.
HAYES: If he were to decline what you're advising or what you would advise is you're saying is that he should invoke the Fifth Amendment and flat out refuse all together even if compelled?
BENNETT: Well, I think if it came to that, the answer is yes. But there's lots of ways he can say it. You see, I wouldn't be at all surprised if -- and I don't know this, if one reason that Trump's side leaked these questions is so now the lawyers can write answers to the 49 questions which best serve the President and then say when they want to talk to him, you're just harassing him. You had questions. We answered them fully. Why on earth are you forcing him to sit down? That's the only reason I can think of as to why they would have leaked, and to those people who are fully supportive of the President, there's some logic in that. What do these people want? He answered the question.
HAYES: I see. That's a fascinating theory because I've been having a hard time figuring out why it would --
BENNETT: Well, I spent a lot of time today thinking about this, and that's the only thing I can come up with. I don't know if I'm giving them too much credit or not.
HAYES: Well, it's a crafty idea. You're saying if you leak this and it's out there and then you -- and then you come up and say look, we've written them down. Here are the answers on a sheet of paper. Then that gives you some kind of modicum of cover to be like you don't have a right to ask anything else.
BENNETT: That's right. And it would be the lawyer's answers to the questions.
HAYES: Of course, yes.
BENNETT: Not the President's.
HAYES: Yes. Well, I'm sure everyone who gives testimony under oath would love to be able to have their lawyers write up some answers for them. Robert Bennett, great to have you with us.
BENNETT: Thank you. It's my pleasure.
HAYES: For more on and what Mueller's questions tell us about the investigation, I'm joined bid, David Leonhardt, he's Op-Ed Columnist from the New York Times whose latest piece is tilted The Truth is Coming for Trump, and former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman who also served as Deputy Assistant General. Harry, do you agree with Robert Bennett about the evidence that is manifested in the nature of these questions?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: More or less. that is, I don't think it's on the surface of the questions, Chris. What Mr. Bennett said was you know, it assumed certain facts. I don't think that's right. But you can just see from the course of the investigation and basically, the important point about these questions in each and every instance is -- in almost each and every instance is that Mueller almost certainly already knows the facts of the matter. They seem benign and open-ended. But you should ask with every question, where -- what does Mueller already know. He knows what Flynn told Kislyak. He knows what McGahn told trump. All of these go on and he's got the goods already and that's what explains those questions. Not on the surface, but you can just infer that from what's happened in the investigation to date.
HAYES: David, what do you mean by truth is coming for the President?
DAVID LEONHARDT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Donald Trump has spent his career lying. He did it as a businessman. We just saw the Washington Post published this piece last week where we had more evidence of him lying about his personal wealth to get on the Forbes list. His whole political rise was built on this lie where Barack Obama was born. He's lied repeatedly as President. He just as Hallie Jackson just asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders today, he did it today in a tweet about these very questions. He just lies again and again and again. And that managed to worked out really well for him. That's depressing for the rest of us but its worked out really well for him. There are sometimes though when lying gets really difficult. And when you're dealing with a professional team of investigators from the Department of Justice, a lot of smart hardworking people who take their mission and jobs very seriously, it becomes much harder because they have the power that comes was being investigators and they can go through other evidence and they can put things together and they can say no, you may say this is the truth but it's not. And we have plenty of evidence that it's not and that's what I meant. I don't know how this is going to end. But we finally at long last have of some accountability for President Trump's lies I think, about to happen.
HAYES: Harry, I want to give you some breaking news from the Washington Post. They just published a story. I'm just reading there now. But it appears to be a kind of a reporting on inside the meeting in March with the Special Counsel -- described as a tense meeting in which they told the special counsel that they didn't have to answer the questions, they had no obligation to talk. Special Counsel Robert Mueller responded he had another option if Trump declined he could issue a subpoena for the President to appear before a grand jury according to four people familiar with the encounter. John Dowd responds this isn't a game. You're screwing with the work of the President of the United States. What do you think?
LITMAN: This isn't a game. It's about the rule of law and Trump, like anyone else like Richard Nixon, is subject to it. And that means having to answer to a subpoena. At the end of the day, Mueller has strategic considerations but he has the legal draw on Trump as it were. He may have to take it to the Supreme Court. Trump may try certain arguments but Mueller is right. It also makes the point, Chris, people are sort of taking these questions as the current state of play. This was a month ago. What they really is are is the end of the road. They're the point when the negotiations went off course and Trump and company said we are not going to try to give terms of an interview anymore. So it's really I think with this Washington Post report and what's happened to date reading between the lines, we're looking at a legal battle. It's much more likely than it seemed three weeks ago that Mueller will serve a subpoena, Trump will try to quash it and we're off to the races in the federal courts.
HAYES: What does that look like to you, David?
LEONHARDT: I mean, it looks on the one hand like a big mess but this is a mess we should want. I mean, as Harry said, this is about the rule of law. We are supposed to be a nation of laws. We're supposed to be a place where power does not allow you to subvert and twist the justice system. And it's clear that Donald Trump has this view and it should let him do so. That's what he means when he says he wants Jeff Sessions to be loyal. That's what he means when he said, yes, I fired Comey because he was looking into me and I didn't like it. And that on a very deep level is un-American. And so, I think this is going to be a real clash but a clash we should welcome because the alternative to a clash is that a president essentially snuffing out the rule of law because he has power and because he doesn't like the idea of being held accountable.
HAYES: I want to bring in -- we have Carol Leonnig who has a byline on that piece in the Washington Post who broke that story I was just reading. Carol, what did you learn about this what sounds like quite an intense meeting between the President's lawyers and Mueller?
CAROL LEONNIG, STAFF WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, this was an interesting meeting that seems to keep producing interesting news. It was March 5th. The President's then lead lawyer and co-lawyer sat down with Mueller in his office to basically talk about whether or not they were going to do the interview. A lot of things happened. Some of which we've already reported. You know, this is the meeting where Mueller tells Trump's lawyers that Trump is not a criminal target of his investigation at that point but just a subject. But now we're learning that in that meeting, Mueller raised the possibility, not in a threatening way but kind of a veiled threat of I can subpoena your guy if you don't want to voluntarily bring him in. And it caused not harsh words but some tense conversations about how the Mueller investigation from Trump's point of view was ruing his presidency and casting a shadow over everything he did.
HAYES: So it's this -- is this as far as your reporting indicates the last time that there was this kind of meeting between the President's lawyers and Mueller himself?
LEONNIG: So no, we did report about another meeting after John Dowd then the lead attorney resigned in late March. There was one more when Rudy Giuliani came on the scene, yes, just this month -- I'm sorry, forgive me in late April. I want to say it's last week and it feels like a month ago but it was just last week. And in that -- in that session, Rudy Giuliani is saying hey, like to get to know you again, Bob and want to talk about the evidence you're sifting through and get a feeling about this investigation from you.
HAYES: And you also reported that it was Sekulow, who's one of the President's attorneys and a person who sort of is known more as kind of movement person, part of the Washington conservative establishment, hosts a radio show than a kind of top-flight litigator or criminal defense attorney. But he was the one that wrote down this list of questions, topics that we're now seeing. Is that correct?
LEONNIG: Yes. I think there's been a lot of confusion about these questions.
LEONNIG: They were -- they were not provided by Mueller's office to Trump's lawyers. What happened was the March 5th meeting sets in motion a lot of anxiety. One, Trump's lawyers know that maybe Mueller is game to subpoena the President which would be a big deal, akin to the time that Ken Starr subpoenaed Bill Clinton. They also asked for more information about the kinds of questions if they're going to consider even recommending this to their client that he sit down with these investigators. And when they ask for more information, they get a few more nuggets of topics we'd like to cover. OK, we said we wanted to ask you about Kislyak. Well, we want to ask you about conversations you had with Michael Flynn about Kislyak and also about other conversations you had with other Trump aides about Kislyak. So that produced the Trump lawyers then in this case Jay Sekulow then began just writing down questions that he extrapolated from the comments that Mueller's deputy made to him in a March 12th conversation.
HAYES: Right. So this is -- this is all being channeled, this is a sort of meeting and a conversation that's then channeled through one of Trump's attorneys and then is now out in the public. And that's how we sort of know what we currently know?
LEONNIG: Correct. You know, a lot of people are breathing heavily, you know, this is the list, the end all, be all list that Mueller is going to ask Trump. I highly doubt that Mueller would limit himself to these questions as they were written by trump's lawyer.
HAYES: Based on your report -- based on your reporting, I'll come back to you guys in a second, David and Harry but one more question here which is based on your reporting, how likely do you think it is that they essentially decline?
LEONNIG: I think it's highly likely they decline at this point. That could change. Remember, this has changed three times, Chris. In January, the President was eager to do it. In February, he was leaning against it. In March, he told his lawyer he wanted to do it, and in April, when Michael Cohen's office was raided, he said there's no way I'm doing it. So it could change again. But at the moment, I think there is some reservation in the team about putting the President in front of Bob Mueller and a team of seasoned investigators.
HAYES: Well, Carol, before you came on the line and you were busy breaking yet another blockbuster story, we had Rob Bennett who represented Bill Clinton who knows a thing or two about this says, there's no way I would tell my client to go into that meeting if you were the President of the United States. Carol Leonnig from the Washington Post, thank you thank you for coming on. Great bit of reporting.
LEONNIG: Thanks, Chris. Take care.
HAYES: All right, so I also still have with me David Leonhardt, he's an Op-Ed Columnist from the New York Times, his latest piece is titled The Truth is Coming for Trump, and like I said, former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman who also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General. David, had you something you want to say?
LEONHARDT: Yes, sorry about interrupting earlier. I was just going to say, Carol made the point that Mueller is not going to limit himself to this list of questions. It's also the case that Mueller is not just a lawyer. He's a political animal, right? He's held political appointments, he's been in Washington a very long time, he understands how the game works. He understands he's at risk of getting fired by the President of the United States. And so, I think we should assume that they're -- I'm not saying I have knowledge of this, but there's every reason to believe that Mueller would actually want to hold back the most damaging information that he has found until very late in this process. And so I would assume that if he had found very damaging stuff, he wouldn't necessarily be previewing it at a meeting weeks or months before he might ever sit down with the President. And so we should view these questions as not only months old but probably deliberately curated by Mueller and his team.
HAYES: Right. I want to, Harry, read to you what Clint Watts, who's been a guest a lot. He's an MSNBC Contributor, former FBI agent, he said, these are very dangerous questions for the President because he doesn't know everything that Mueller team knows, as you mentioned and the President never seems to do good vetting of his own people and know what they are up to. And Ryan Goodman and Alex Whiting writing for just security making the same point you made, Harry. Mueller's questions show collusion show that it's likely Mueller has already identified crimes involving collusion. Mueller is asking here only about Trump's possible knowledge and personal involvement. Do you think the legal team has been undertaking a strategy under Giuliani to lay the groundwork to just say the President is not going to do it?
LITMAN: Yes, that's my best take on the -- on the leak. That they are trying to say this is too broad, he's out of control, possibly some halfway strategy of the sort that Bill Bennett identified we'll do written answers to the questions knowing -- I mean, this was -- where the rubber hits the road is Bob Mueller will never accept answers not given under oath by the President, period, full stop. And that's the number one thing that they want to avoid. So I think the leak is designed to begin to portray an out- of-control prosecutor. Of course, these are all very kind of obvious straightforward questions to anyone who has been following the probe and I don't think they play very well as overreaching.
HAYES: Yes, and it seems, David, we are hurtling now, I mean, we're hurtling toward some confrontation as you said, right? There's going to be a fight. If it comes down to -- if the President says no, Mueller then sends a subpoena, then it goes to a court. I mean, this is -- this is where things get very serious.
LEONHARDT: I think we are. And I think it's important to remember, this is an inherently political process, right? There's some debate about this but the legal expert who's I find persuasive don't think the sitting President of the United States can be charged with a crime. Again, there's some debate about it. I would be stunned if Mueller decided to do that in this case.
HAYES: I agree with that.
LEONHARDT: So this is really a political process, right? It's a process and what matters is for Trump is how Mueller's report and findings affect the American people's attitude toward President and affect Congress's attitude toward the President. And so it is hurtling toward a conflict. Let's remember, it's not just a legal conflict, it is as much a political conflict as a legal conflict.
HAYES: All right, David Leonhardt and Harry Litman, thank you both for being here.
LITMAN: Thank you. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Now, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave an interview today where he seemed remarkably untroubled by a report that Trump allied House conservatives have drafted articles of impeachment against him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any reaction to the news that certain members of the House Freedom Caucus have talked about drafting up articles of impeachment despite your best efforts to comply with their document requests?
ROSENSTEIN: They can't even resist leaking their own drafts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you care to elaborate on that.
ROSENSTEIN: I saw that draft. I mean, I don't know who wrote it. I just don't have anything to say about documents like that that nobody has the courage to put their name on and that they leaking that way.
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HAYES: Impeachment articles are drafted by the Freedom Caucus. And that group's Chair Republican Mark Meadows told the Washington Post the articles of impeachment would be a last resort if the Department of Justice fails to respond to his request for more information. Rosenstein today responded.
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ROSENSTEIN: There have been people who have been making threats, privately and publicly against me for quite some time and I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted. We're going to do what's required by the rule of law and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job.
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HAYES: Joining me now, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who was a Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She's been fighting to protect the Special Counsel's investigation. Senator, your response to that remarkable statement from Rod Rosenstein, the Department of Justice will not be extorted?
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I completely agree with him. And contrary to the President's belief that everybody works for him including the Justice Department. Rod Rosenstein is a professional. He's doing his job. And this is why the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bipartisan bill that would ensure that Special Counsel, not just Mueller but going forward that they would protect it from political pressures, the kind of political pressure that the House Republicans Freedom Caucus, don't make me laugh. You know, we should be free from Russian interference in our elections. What the Freedom Caucus is so prepared to support the President in any way, shape, or form that they'll just leak their own non- signed articles of impeachment which Rosenstein said, you know what? If you're going to do something like this, at least have a factual basis, at least have the courage to put your names to it.
HAYES: What do you think them leaking their draft of possible impeachment proceedings against Rosenstein is about? What do you make of that?
HIRONO: Well, I think it's a big telegraph to the President we're on your side, Mr. President. We'll do whatever we can do to put the skids on this impeachment. So that is not where our country should be.
HAYES: That's -- that would be a nonstarter in the Senate, wouldn't it?
HIRONO: Well, considering they're going to need I think two-thirds vote, that's about 67 votes, I don't think that even if the House gathered up the courage to do something that can't be substantiated, I don't think it will pass the Senate. But these are unusual times. Who knows? So what this all points out to is the importance of the Mueller investigation. It needs to proceed. And I'm very disappointed, more than disappointed that Mitch McConnell has unilaterally taken the position that he's not even going to bring the bill to the floor for a vote in spite of the fact that the chair of the committee, the Judiciary Committee in the Senate in a bipartisan vote wants this vote.
HAYES: You were on the committee that before which Rod Rosenstein testified when he was confirmed to the position. Has your confidence --
HAYES: -- or view of him changed over time? Has it improved? Has it declined?
HIRONO: I'm glad that he's staying the course and when he came up for confirmation, I asked him if the President asks you to do anything immoral, unethical or illegal, would you be prepared to resign and he said yes so I'm holding him to it. And so far, he's behaved in the professional way that I expect from the person who is overseeing this most important investigation.
HAYES: All right, Mazie Hirono, thanks for joining us.
HIRONO: Thank you.
HAYES: Ahead, remember when Donald Trump's doctor wrote in a letter that Trump would be the healthiest individual ever elected? Well, now the doctor says Trump dictated that statement himself and only after we found out the doctor's office was raided by Trump's security guard. That incredible story is ahead. Still to come, the President's messaging strategy for the Mueller probe and why it may actually be working.
HAYES: All right, we've got breaking news of this hour from the Washington Post about a meeting between Trump's attorneys back when John Dowd was on the team in March with Robert Mueller himself in which the attorneys have floated the idea that if the President wouldn't be talking to them and Robert Mueller floated back the notion of subpoenaing the President of the United States. It was apparently a tense meeting. And it was in that meet when they talked about the topics and areas and subjects and questions they would like to talk to the president about, notes that were then written by Jay Sekulow of the president's legal team. And it is that document that has been leaked. It came to The New York Times yesterday. And we've been parsing all day.
Here to help me understand what Trump is really saying and what the White House is trying to do from a spin perspective, which I think has been deceptively effective.
The New York Times op-ed columnist Michelle Goldberg, Shelby Holliday of the Wall Street Journal and attorney Lisa Green.
So you've got so many ways in which -- there's one part of the White House's approach, which is just for the Trump base which is like let's put that to the side, like it's a crazy deep state conspiracy involving a million like mid-level FBI agents you never heard of unless you watch Hannity every night. Like, I don't think that's working on anyone except that crew of people.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEW YORK TIMES: But there is a working the refs that is working on the rest of us, right. There is this sort of bludgeoning people into accepting certain terms of the debate.
I mean, just the fact that we treat collusion as something that is a big question mark. There is so much evidence in the public domain of collusion. We don't know if whether any of it rises to a criminal level, but there is simply no question that the Trump administration welcomed Russia's help in sabotaging Hillary Clinton's campaign. There's none.
And so the fact that we even talk about collusion as an outstanding issue, the fact that we don't consider it an admission of guilt or at least something suspicious that Trump is so afraid of this process that I mean, it is his responsibility as president to participate in, you know, kind of the lawful administration of justice and we just...
HAYES: To take care that the laws are faithfully executed as the constitution of the United States says.
LISA GREEN, SARD VERBENNEN & CO MANAGING DIRECTOR: Well, speak of ways in which the president can behave in a normative way that we would be used to, in typical situations the whole notion that the president might not voluntarily cooperate with an investigation about our electoral process seems like political suicide, but those days are over. And as you say, the president is clearly going to his base and saying things like that, 49 questions it's so many.
HAYES: Right. Right.
GOLDBERG: And so many topics.
And you know, we're no longer in normal times where that is considered an outlier.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I think there are three reasons that there strategy is effective at least for right now. That could change, obviously, down the road as we learn more from Mueller, but first of all the investigation is incredibly complicated. It engulfs many, many players, a lot of different Trump associates, a lot of different Russians. It's hard to keep their names straight. It's a really complex investigation.
Trump also has some pretty powerful players on his team. He has members of congress. The House just shut down their intelligence investigation without even pursuing important lines of questioning or pursuing the people...
HAYES: Phone records.
HOLLIDAY: The people who could sit at the crux of collusion.
He has major players in the media out there kind of hammering away every night, like you said Hannity, but also tabloids. He's got a lot of people on his team -- Breitbart.
And then I also think there is something to this, you know, confusion about how the investigation came to be in the first place. Right now the talking point is like so some guy writes a memo, and there's another memo. And they're just using memos to spark the special counsel. And when you think about it -- I mean, you have to stop and think about why these memos exist, it's because of the president's behavior. It really confuses people.
GOLDBERG: Right, but it confuses people, and there's I think a lot of people who should know better and have a responsibility to do better who have been kind of participating in that confusion, and not calling it out when there's blatant lines and blatant misrepresentations.
HAYES: There's also one thing they've done that I think -- the one thing they've done that I think has been weirdly effective is they just repeat the phrase no collusion every chance they get, anytime anyone in that White House -- the president -- now, as you said. They refer to it like obviously it's already been established.
HOLLIDAY: And dodgy dossier. How many times have we heard that.
HAYES: Listen to just this little brief montage of them talking about it, and take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Russian collusion, give me a break.
Just so understand, just so understand, there's been no collusion. There's been no crime.
There has been no collusion.
There was no collusion at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And to Michelle's point, it's like even that isn't -- it's not clear that's the case.
GOLDBERG: No, it's clear that that is not the case. I mean, -- there was a Washington Post story recently about how Trump bullied his way onto the Forbes richest list and how he tricked the guy into making him think he was a billionaire and the guy thought that he was really calling him out by saying he was only worth a couple hundred million dollars, and in fact he was worth $5 million.
And I think that that's what he does. He sort of like takes be this stance that's so far out there, moves the political center of gravity so far towards him that even the response, well, there might be collusion is itself a distortion.
HOLLIDAY: Well, the funny thing is collusion is not even a crime. So, when he says this, you have to really parse.
GREEN: Collusion is not a crime, but collusion should be a presidency ending scandal. It should be in a normal decent country.
HOLLIDAY: It's a term for a number of crimes that we refer to.
HAYES: Well, that's the other thing. I mean, to the extent that they say collusion is not a crime. In fact, the president today was like even like, eh, no collusion; also collusion is not a crime. Which is a little like arguing the alternative.
But, it is true that like if you, for instance, engage in a federal conspiracy to violate campaign finance law or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which is what we would think of as collusion, that's also a federal crime.
GREEN: Right, so that takes more words to the point of it's too complicated, but I think Mueller inadvertently, because surely he didn't want an outline for his questions leaked laid out what I think is a pretty simple narrative. Most of those topics, I dare say all of those topics, looked familiar if you have a passing familiarity with the recent news is the past year-and-a-half.
HAYES: Or an obsessive one.
GREEN: Not that hard to see the themes, not that hard.
HOLLIDAY: And it also shows that he's staying within his mandate, which I think is really important at this point, because the strategy of Trump trying to discredit the investigation. He keeps saying financial crimes, porn star, he's just going crazy. These questions show he's absolutely not.
HAYES: But that's perfect example of part of the strategy. So, one part of the strategy, no collusion; the other is this idea of like you have a narrow bailiwick. And what's sort of fascinating about that is like it's implicit in all the people around the president, like of course, he's committed other crimes. They don't even come and say it, they're just like, no, you can't -- oh, my goodness, don't look in there. Don't look that room, that room is off limits. If you open the door to that room, we're going to get really mad. It's like, well what the heck's behind that door, like -- but they have been effective I think in like setting this idea of red lines and boundaries.
GREEN: You can go down a rabbit hole and decide that the news of the raid on his doctor's offices is yet another diversion designed to make us lots our minds and not stay focused. Rest assured, Mueller's team highly focused. They gave those questions. I'm sure they're disgusted that they were made public, and now we read of these negotiations.
HAYES: they had to anticipate it, though, didn't they?
HOLLIDAY: It also ties some of the things that have said by Trump to not be related to collusion into collusion. For example, the real estate deal, the Trump Tower Moscow deal or Paul Manafort's dealings with -- you know, for a long type President Trump has said Paul Manafort, he did his own weird stuff. He was a consultant.
Now this is hinting at the fact that Paul Manafort asked these people for help. So, it's bringing it into the campaign.
GOLDBERG: But those arguments are so ridiculous that it is -- it is a shame on our country that those arguments are even taken seriously, the arguments that Paul Manafort's entanglements with Putin allied oligarchs are somehow orthogonal to the rest of the investigation, or my attempt to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, which a criminal linked to the Russian mafia said would result in my election in an email to my lawyer Michael Cohen who has just been raided by the FBI, yeah this is some kind of -- this is some kind of bizarre tangent that is not germane to the main issue itself I think shows how much they have successfully been able to kind of mess with us and mess with our understanding of what's right in front of our face.
GREEN: Except that in the end, what's going to matter more, our own sense of a general public confusion about what's really important or the results of the Mueller investigation, which I'm pretty confident are going to be directed -- and by the way, the president may decide not to cooperate. And Mueller may decide to subpoena him, but Mueller may also decide not to, and conclude his investigation with other evidence.
HAYES: But that's this idea that like the facts will out, the truth will out. And it matters what he finds. And I believe that, right?
But the other thing is like it is a political process. Like they could find literally a text from the president saying to Vladimir Putin like today is the day to release the hacked emails -- no, I'm serious -- and, what, maybe you don't get two-thirds votes. Like, the point is like if they're successful.
HOLLIDAY: Yeah, I think the House Republicans would say that's not a crime.
HAYES: Right, if they're successful in holding their base and in spinning all this, right -- we want to say, well, the facts are out, and even if there's like indictable offenses, which I'm sure Robert Mueller would call your attention to. Fundamentally they understand this. They understand it's a political game.
HOLLIDAY: I think that's why we're not seeing anything beyond what's been reported in the news in the questions of from Mueller, because a lot of people were actually disappointed that they weren't looking at some of Trump's business deals or some of the potential financial leverage that Russia could have on him. That's hasn't really been hashed out in the news and a lot of legal experts say Mueller is probably not trying to freak President Trump.
HAYES: Well, that I think is true. I also think it's true that we don't know that it's a complete list. There is no -- this is Jay Sekulow's notes. Maybe didn't put everything down, or maybe he put down another 20 questions they were like, no, no, no, don't leak that. Like, we very no idea.
And the whole thing is coming through their side, right, and obviously it came through Trump channels.
The final thing I'll say here, and I think is the way they've made obstruction of justice like some sort of like subsidiary, it's like -- that's like jaywalking, like, you know, it's like -- well, there's collusion, that's a serious thing and there's no collusion. And then if you try to get me on obstruction, he says -- tweets this morning, it would be very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened. Witch hunt.
Jeff Smith, who is a former state senator from Missouri, a friend of mine, been of this show, he did multiple years in federal prison, because he lied to the FBI investigation in which there was no underlying crime.
He says it's possible commit felony obstruction of justice without the underlying act being a felony #trustme. All right.
Jeff knows from where he speaks, but they have I think been somewhat successful in sort of cordoning off obstruction as a subsidiary issue.
GOLDBERG: Some of them are the same people -- like literally the same people who pushed for the impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying to -- for lying about something that was very clearly not an underlying crime.
HOLLIDAY: One other point I would if we have time is -- I was talking to a legal expert who said, you know, if you look what Comey did with Hillary Clinton, like they exhausted every single bit of evidence and talked to every witnessed. And they saved her for the end. And in her case, that was a good thing, because they didn't find anything criminal, but they had to exhaust everything. They had to talk to her.
And you could make the same case about President Trump. He hasn't been interviewed yet. They might just be wanting to exhaust all their leads, and that would be a good thing except President Trump has bashed the fact that Hillary Clinton was interviewed after the investigation was almost concluded.
HAYES: Also she complied and did not invoke the Fifth Amendment. And the point here is like she didn't go crazy about -- you know what I mean, like ultimately, she went and faced the fire. And question here is like, if the president doesn't do that, what does that mean?
GREEN: This has been going on for months this debate about whether -- almost like a reality show -- will he or won't he? Will he cooperate or not? But, you know, the prosecutors have day jobs, and they probably have a schedule. And a lot of Trump supporters have advocated for a quick end to this investigation, query whether Mueller goes forward without him.
HAYES: Michelle Goldberg, Shelby Holliday, and Lisa Green, thanks for joining me.
Still ahead, President Trump's doctor says that three men, including the president's bodyguard, who at the time was on the public payroll, raided his office and robbed him and took everything related to the president? That unbelievable story ahead.
HAYES: Scandal-ridden EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who somehow still has his job, is not, as far as we can tell, a big one for personal responsibility. Appearing before congress last week, Pruitt blamed his staff, his political enemies, pretty much everyone, but himself for conduct in office that has now led to, and I'm not making this up, 11 federal investigations.
Now, just today, The Washington Post reporting that a lobbyist helped arrange Pruitt's controversial $100,000 trip to Morocco, with the lobbyist later winning a $40,000 a month retroactive contract with the Moroccan government. Wow, look at that.
On Capitol Hill last week, Pruitt insisted he had no knowledge of EPA officials being sidelined for questioning his habit for lavish public spending. But according to Pruitt's own former deputy chief of staff, that was a flat out lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he was not aware of any employees being pushed out for raising red flags. Was he just straight out lying.
KEVIN CHMIELEWSKI, EPA WHISTLEBLOWER: Bold-faced lying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Boldfaced lying to congress. That guy you saw there who said boldfaced lying, Kevin ...., he is a Trump loyalist, a former Trump campaign staffer who appeared on stage with the president. He was appointed to the EPA by Trump. And he says he was pushed out for questioning Pruitt's spending.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He describes how a manager told him bluntly.
CHMIELEWSKI: Hey, Administrator Pruitt either wants me to fire you or put you in an office he doesn't have to see you again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: At one point, Chmielewski says he was personally threatened by Pruitt's head of security, that would be Pasquale Nino Pirota (ph) there on the left who reportedly played a central role in authorizing and also enabling Pruitt's lavish spending habits, including his legendarily massive security detail.
Pirota (ph) he set to be interviewed Wednesday by the House oversight committee, and today he resigned from the EPA, huh, that's pretty interesting timing.
Pirota (ph) wasn't the only one. Also stepping down just today was Albert Kelly, a former banker who is now barred from working in the finance industry by the FTC because of a banking violation, who you may recall from such Pruitt scandals as his role in financing the Shell Company purchase of a fancy home in Oklahoma where Pruitt often stayed.
That sort of shady behavior is absolutely endemic in the Trump administration, and it comes from the top. After the break, what happened to Trump's long-time doctor after he revealed the president used Propecia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: How strange is it for you to sit here and compare the president to a mob boss?
JIM COMEY, FRM. FBI DIRECTOR: Very strange. And I don't do it lightly. And I'm not trying to by that, by the way, suggest that President Trump is out breaking legs and shaking down shop keepers, but instead what I'm talking about is that leadership culture constantly comes back to me when I think about when I think about my experience with the Trump administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We got a window today in exactly what James Comey was talking about, thanks to Trump's long-time doctor, Harold Bornstein. You remember him? There he is.
He told NBC News that back in February 2017, a few days after he told a newspaper that Trump used Propecia for hair growth, which, by the way not really a cool thing for your doctor to do, that hte director of Oval Office Operations, public employee Keith Schiller, showed up at his office with another man and a Trump lawyer.
Dr. Bornstein says the men raided his office, demanded Trump's medical records, and told him to take down a photo of Bornstein and Trump that hung on the office wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What exactly were they looking for?
DR. JONATHAN BORNSTEIN, TRUMP DOCTOR: All his medical records, his pictures, anything they could find.
They must have been here for 25 to 30 minutes. It created a lot of chaos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: One of the ways of Trump world, I'm joined by conservative Washington Post columnist, MSNBC contributor Jennifer Rubin; biographer Gwenda Blair, adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; and Jess McIntosh, executive editor of Share Blue Media.
Jennifer, what is your reaction to the story?
JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST: It gets weirder and weirder.
You know, you thought Stormy Daniels was the weirdest subsidiary character in this thing, but now Bornstein's back. Season two, they brought him back for another episode.
This is just bizarre. And one more bizarre aspect to this is that when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about it, she said, standard operating procedure. That is nonsense.
First of all, what they did was arguably illegal, coming into anybody's office and taking documents, arguably violated HIPAA , the federal privacy law concerning medical documents. He did not have a signed authorization from the president.
And third of all, who behaves this way? I mean, this is really what James Comey was talking about, this kind of like thuggery. And for what purpose? For what end?
You know, if people are under the mistaken impression that those documents belong to Trump, no, they don't. They belong to the doctor. Trump is allowed to get a copy of them if he goes through the proper paperwork, but those were property of the doctor. He was right, he had his property taken from him.
JESS MCINTOSH, SHARE BLUE: I mean, this is indicative of how Trump runs his business. And he promised that he was going to run this country the way he ran his business. We have seen going back to 1992, footage of Trump in interviews admitting to behavior like this, saying that he likes to destroy people who aren't sufficiently loyal. Obviously the Propecia revelation is going to cause him some consternation, so he sends his goons over because Trump has goons, because we have a president who is the kind of man who has goons in his business.
And we are seeing him do the exact same thing to the country. And that's why, as much as I love Dr. Bornstein, he's my favorite character in all of this, I don't want to get caught up in how funny it is, because there's nothing funny about him applying these absolutely mafia-like tactics to our country.
HAYES: He sent a White House employee to go through -- to rob someone, as far as we can tell. I mean, that's what is being claimed.
GWENDA BLAIR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Made me think about those tax returns. You can't see the tax returns. He doesn't want people to see his stuff. He doesn't want them to see the medical records. He doesn't want them to see the tax returns.
What's in those medical records? And Propecia is associated, you know, is used for hair loss. He doesn't want to talk about that. It's also associated -- it has a lot of bad side effects, including sexual dysfunction. I think he really doesn't want to talk about that.
HAYES: Can I just say, I don't think -- I want to stand up for the principle that doctors should not give interviews about the medications they prescribe for their patients in any circumstance whatsoever.
MCINTOSH: Doctors shouldn't do is allow their patients to transcribe for them, to dictate their notes about how -- I mean, we now know that when Dr. Bornstein sent that ridiculous letter that said Trump was going to be the most healthiest president in the presidency, that Trump had literally dictated that to him word for word.
HAYES: This is a quote from that letter, of course, if elected Mr. Trump, I can say it unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." We all had a big laugh at that. He now says that that came directly from Trump.
But, Gwenda, let me -- Gwenda, can I ask you this question. You've written I think two books about the Trumps, one about the family, one about the candidate. This mode of operating, it just would never occur to me like in my life, if I -- like, oh, I need my medical records from my doctor. I'm going to send over my guys to his office to grab them. Like, is this the way he operates?
BLAIR: It's the way he's operated in his entire business career, the TV career, the presidential -- running for the president, and being the president.
When he first started out, you know, at the very, very beginning, when his first -- the first lawyer that he had representing him was, as I know everyone there knows, Roy Cohn. The man who introduced him to Roy Cohn was a guy named Eugene Morris, a lawyer who had done some work for Fred Trump, Donald's father, and was, of all things, Roy Cohn's first cousin.
He introduced Donald to Roy Cohn and he said Donald was really attracted -- and he thinks the reason that Donald was attracted was because Roy had actually been indicted. Roy was a tough guy and he had the proof of being tough. Donald went for it. And he's gone for that ever since.
HAYES: I thought today, when I saw the story about the doctor's office, I thought about the claims Stormy Daniels made, that in 2011, that a man just came up and sort of threatened her child in a parking lot in Las Vegas, and she understood it as connected to the fact that she was telling her story to a tabloid, and that in the absence of other context, that would seem an outlandish and preposterous story.
HAYES: But what do you -- what's your thinking when you see this today?
MCINTOSH: That story is not the only story of its type. The president of Media Matters has a similar story, where he was approached by -- he was leading a campaign to...
HAYES: A boycott.
MCINTOSH: A boycott of Trump's ties at Macy's, I believe it was, when he was approached by a man who he now recognizes as this bodyguard who he sent to the doctor's office who told him to lay off Trump or something bad could happen to him.
There is a pattern of Trump, Donald Trump, sending this particular man and others to threaten people who get in the way of whatever -- who he deems insufficiently loyal, it doesn't even have to cross him in any way. So, we are dealing with a very thin-skinned narcissist on a hair trigger who has goons.
RUBIN: Yes, remember, he has more lawsuits than any other president.
RUBIN: There are a few things here, because these characters keep coming back. Remember, it seems like a year ago, but we're talking about Ronnie Jackson, who said he didn't have access to Trump's medical records. Hmm.
HAYES: Did he say that?
RUBIN: That's kind of odd.
Yes, he did. He said he didn't have access to the prior medical records. It was based on his observations. That's a peculiar statement, isn't it?
RUBIN: So number one, someone should go back and kind of parse that out again.
Number two, remember, Keith Schiller is a direct witness to a very key part of the dossier. He supposedly was standing outside that hotel room in Moscow, said he didn't see anybody going in, but then he went off to bed and who knows what happened after that.
So the credibility of these people, the relationship that Donald Trump has with this guy, again, just as Comey said, sort of like a Capo, that he's working for the boss. How credible are these people going to be when they're put under oath? And what else do they know?
HAYES: Also, when you think about, like, are these a group of people who would are covering something up vis-a-vis with their involvement with Russia that -- the kinds of people that send three people to barge into a doctor's office to get medical records?
MCINTOSH: I mean, we have seen him try this tactic as president before when he literally threatens Dean Geller in Nevada when he thought he was going to vote the wrong way. He sits him down in front of cameras and goes this one still wants to be senator, like nice senate seat, shame if something happened to it.
So we know that he does this. There is nothing to suggest that he isn't currently doing it right now in Mueller's Russia investigation.
HAYES: and to Gwenda's point about Roy Cohn, there's a great piece by Frank Rich in New York magazine about that world I would recommend you read.
Jennifer Rubin, Gwenda Blair, and Jess McIntosh, thanks for being with me tonight.
That is All In for this evening.
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