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

Giuliani says Trump could plead the fifth. TRANSCRIPT: 05/07/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Laurence Tribe, Andrea Bernstein, Nancy Gertner

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 7, 2018 Guest: Laurence Tribe, Andrea Bernstein, Nancy Gertner

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- who refuses to adhere to the Constitution, he took an oath under God to protect. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I`m facing a situation with the President and all the other lawyers are, in which every lawyer in America thinks he would be a fool to testify. I`ve got a client who wants to testify.

HAYES: That`s Rudy Giuliani defending the President.

GIULIANI: I`m at the point where I`m learning, and I can only -- I can`t prove that. I can just say it`s rumor.

HAYES: Tonight the say anything strategy.

GIULIANI: How do you separate fact and opinion?

HAYES: And why it might just work.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rudy never changes. Where is Rudy?

HAYES: Plus, new details about what the President`s other lawyer might have done for his client.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Michael Cohen make payments to other women for the President?

GIULIANI: I have no knowledge of that. But I would think if it was necessary, yes.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER, STORMY DANIELS: The President had effectively an extramarital affair slush fund.

HAYES: Then Scott Pruitt`s luxury trip to Rome on the public dime.

SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR, EPA: Let`s have no illusions about what was really going on here.

HAYES: And what primary night in America looks like in the era of Trump.

DON BLANKENSHIP, SENATE CANDIDATE, WEST VIRGINIA: I`m basically trumpier than Trump.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The President and his lawyer are applying the same strategy that got the President elected to his rapidly multiplying legal threats. Overwhelm the public with enough noise to drown out the facts and muddle the issues. Whether it can work this time is still an open question. The President today spent his morning executive time, as he so often does, tweeting about the criminal investigation into his campaign, his allies and his family members and himself. And this comes after the President`s new personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed in an interview over the weekend that the Mueller team might try to set up the President on perjury charges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: It`s only prosecutable if they have some built-up, manipulated evidence to prove the President didn`t tell the truth. How often does that happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have evidence that proves he doesn`t tell the truth and the president didn`t tell the truth.

GIULIANI: No. People do things like lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens if Robert Mueller subpoenas the President? Will you comply?

GIULIANI: Well, we don`t have to. He`s the President of the United States. We can assert the same privilege as other presidents have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: In that same interview, Giuliani also left open the possibility the President might invoke the Fifth Amendment, the first time a member of the President`s legal team has publicly done so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident the President will not take the Fifth in this case?

GIULIANI: How can I ever be confident of that? When I`m -- when I`m facing a situation with the President and all the other lawyers are, in which every lawyer in America thinks he would be a fool to testify.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That interview, that was about the sitting President of the United States came just a couple of days after the President told reporters that Giuliani didn`t have the facts straight when he revealed last week, you remember, the President had in fact, contrary to denials, reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen for his hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. Nevertheless, Giuliani continued to weigh in on that transaction despite acknowledging he doesn`t actually know what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the President did know about this after the campaign?

GIULIANI: I can`t say that. At some point, yes, but it could have been recently, it could have been a while back. Those are the facts that we`re still working on, and you know, maybe in a little bit of dispute. This is more rumor than it is anything else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that`s what you said. You said that to BuzzFeed.

GIULIANI: But here`s -- well, yes. I mean, that`s one of the possibilities and one of the rumors. The reality is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stated it as fact.

GIULIANI: No, maybe I did. But right now I`m at the point where I`m learning. And I can only -- I can`t prove that I can just say it`s rumor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: It`s just a rumor. The President`s lawyer also did not rule out that Cohen may have paid off other women on the President`s behalf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: There were other things involved that had nothing to do with Stormy Daniels. In other words, other amounts of money. This was not uncommon for him to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said he -- this was a regular arrangement he had with Michael Cohen. So did Michael Cohen make payments to other women for the President?

GIULIANI: I have no knowledge of that. But I would think if it was necessary, yes. He made payments for President or he`s conducted business for the President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Interviewed right after Giuliani, Stormy Daniels` attorney Michael Avenatti called the appearance a, "absolute unmitigated disaster for the President." Giuliani after meeting with Trump later on his golf club in Virginia told the Washington Post he still has his client`s confidence. "We all feel pretty good. We`ve got everything kind of straightened out and we`re setting the agenda. Everybody is reacting to us now, and I feel good about that because that`s what I came in to do." Laurence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, an expert on campaign finance law among other things. Let me start with that one assertion Rudy Giuliani made about asserting presidential privilege in response to a subpoena. What do you make of that?

LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, he says that presidents do it all the time. But the fact is no president of the United States has ever refused to respond to a subpoena. Thomas Jefferson responded by producing the evidence that John Marshall wanted so he didn`t have to appear personally. Richard Nixon handed over tapes on which his personal voice appeared in a context where he couldn`t even take the Fifth because it was already on tape and Bill Clinton responded by arranging to testify, "voluntarily". So Rudy doesn`t know he what he`s talking about in terms of the law or American history but he sure puts on a show. It`s just remarkable.

HAYES: Well, do you discern a legal strategy here?

TRIBE: Well, I think it`s not so much a legal strategy as a P.R. strategy. Confuse them, distract them, that`s the way we won. But they`ve forgotten that the ultimate audience here is not the people of the United States who are undoubtedly fascinated by Stormy Daniels and confused by the constant contradictions, it`s the judicial system. And when the judicial system led by Robert Mueller with all of the evidence that he is gathering decides that we`ve got to straighten this out, Rudy has made it even more important to figure out what did the President really know and when did he know it about all of these interrelated money schemes makes it all the more necessary to have the president`s personal testimony, which is why the case for a subpoena is stronger by virtue of this supposed defense. I mean, they`re really putting all their feet in their mouths.

HAYES: You said something interesting there. This is not -- it`s a P.R. strategy but it`s not a sort of legal strategy. But there`s a sense in which because of the way that the President is a singular kind of client, right.

TRIBE: Right, right.

HAYES: And the Constitution`s only remedy according to (INAUDIBLE), currently you can`t indict a sitting president, let`s stipulate that for a moment. I know it`s slightly contested -- that ultimately, that`s all that matters. I mean, that ultimately, this will ultimately be fought on political terrain. What do you think of that?

TRIBE: No question. But that political terrain will be framed by the legal case that is put forward and confusing the public now is not going to help when the bombs explode and the evidence is splattered all over the front page.

HAYES: Giuliani had an interesting argument about this sort of why there is no legal exposure on the Stormy Daniels front. I want to just play that to you and get your reaction to that specifically because it does have to do a little bit with campaign finance law and its violations. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: What matters to me are two things. There are two relevant legal things, which is what my job is. Number one, it was not a campaign contribution because it would have been done anyway. This is the kind of thing I settled for celebrities and famous people. Every lawyer that does that kind of work has. And number two, even if it was considered a campaign contribution, it was entirely reimbursed out of personal funds, which I don`t think we`ll even get to because the first someone enough. So case closed -- case closed for Donald Trump and I think for Michael Cohen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Case closed, Professor?

TRIBE: Not at all. He is just making it worse. If it was a contribution, it clearly was timed to prevent Stormy Daniels from speaking on the eve of the campaign. It wasn`t a coincidence. It was a long time between the underlying affair and the hush money. And even if it was going to be repaid and if it was loan, there were violations of the federal campaign reporting laws. Worse than that, the cloud of confusion that they are spewing now amounts to obstruction of justice and witness tampering because Cohen and the President are key witnesses and the President through Giuliani is signaling what he wants Cohen to say. So it`s a mess many times over as a result of Giuliani`s learning conserve.

HAYES: All right, Professors Laurence Tribe, thanks for your appearance tonight.

TRIBE: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: For more on the relationship between the President and his attorney, I`m joined by Andrea Bernstein, she`s Host of the Trump Inc. series on WBMIC and former Watergate Prosecutor Nick Akerman who served under Rudy Giuliani when he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and you are a young pup AUSA.

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Exactly. Many years ago.

HAYES: First, let me start with this. We got -- a Wall Street Journal piece that just crossed, just published that the lawyers -- Rudy Giuliani gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal. They`re going to aim to decide by May 17th whether the President testifies in the Mueller probe. I guess it`s a one-year anniversary of Mueller. It`s you know, a fitting date. What do you think?

AKERMAN: I don`t think he`s got any choice. I mean, there`s a false narrative that`s being spun here, that is that there`s some kind of negotiation going on.

HAYES: Always.

AKERMAN: That you know, Trump somehow has the upper hand and he can decide what to do. The fact of the matter is if he gets subpoenaed, the Supreme Court is going to tell him he`s got to testify.

HAYES: Right.

AKERMAN: I mean, U.S. v Nixon is right on point. The Supreme Court, in that case, said the public has the right to every person`s evidence unless they`re going to take a privileged -- some kind of privilege like the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify. That`s it. He is going to have to testify.

HAYES: You`ve reported on the President and Rudy Giuliani quite a bit. What is that relationship like?

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, HOST, TRUMP INC.: Well, I mean, it is very interesting that Giuliani made his bones putting mobsters in jail and corrupt politicians in jail, and that he`s now essentially playing the Roy Cohn role for Trump. Roy Cohn was one of Trump`s first lawyers who was also a mob lawyer and who Trump has sort of held up as the standard the kind a personal lawyer should be, defending him at all cost, even if it means sometimes crossing the law. I think it`s important to remember the context this is going on. Right now there is a special master in the Michael Cohen case reviewing eight boxes of documents, the electronic records of several cell phones, blackberries and iPad to see whether there is evidence of wrongdoing in the Trump Organization or by Michael Cohen at some point that could implicate Trump. Separately, we also learned that Mueller last week in those 49 questions was just last week that one of the things he`s looking at is Trump`s business relationships with Russia. So Rudy Giuliani is confusing everybody about talking about Stormy Daniels. It`s really -- you need a timeline to keep track of all of the differing explanations, but at the same time, there are these two very serious criminal investigation going on in which he is a key part of Trump`s defense team.

HAYES: This is a tidbit from the Wall Street Journal article. It`s sort of interesting. For Trump to testify would be a serious distraction to his work as president eating into time he needs to deal with pressing global issues. Mr. Trump`s lawyers contend --

AKERMAN: Let me just say this is one president who does not have that argument. He has purposely gone to L.A. to file a case against an individual he says he never had an affair with who he doesn`t really know anything about, but yet he can involve himself in that case. And then --

HAYES: That`s a decent argument, actually. I had forgotten about that.

AKERMAN: And then he spends half his time on the golf course. So this is one president who cannot make the Bill Clinton argument that it would take up to much of his time.

HAYES: This is again from the article. In an informal four-hour practice session, Mr. Trump`s lawyers were only able to walk him through two questions given the freaking interruptions on national security matter along Mr. Trump`s loquaciousness one person familiar with the matter.

AKERMAN: I`m sure they asked him what is your name and what did you have for breakfast this morning. I don`t think he could focus on any of these questions. These questions that you saw published last week, I mean, you and I could have come up with those in a few hours.

HAYES: Right.

AKERMAN: I mean, those were just general topics. What he`s -- the real questions are going to be based on the evidence that Mueller has gathered over the course of this investigation. What Flynn has told them, what Papadopoulos has told them? That`s where the real questioning is going to come.

BERNSTEIN: I think it`s also really important to note that -- I mean if you ever watch order read transcripts of Trump depositions --

HAYES: And there is a lot of them.

BERNSTEIN: And there are many, he says things frequently like in one lawsuit he said, well, I set the value of my properties in my mind. It depends on my state of mind. He says that he hasn`t met people that he clearly has met. So it`s a situation where if you have a prosecutor that gets to ask all the questions, he doesn`t get to do what he does with us which is issue a tweet that is going to send people running.

HAYES: Right.

BERNSTEIN: He just has to answer the questions and the prosecutors will get to ask him no matter what he says. So that is what he`s up against, and maybe the truest thing that Rudy Giuliani has said in the past days is that that`s something that would concern lawyer is that their client is liable to go off script any second.

HAYES: What did you think about him invoking I thought for the first time publicly from the legal team pleading the Fifth?

AKERMAN: Oh, I think he may very well do that. I mean, he`s done so many other off the wall things.

HAYES: Right.

AKERMAN: This would be the first time he would be the total contrarian and basically he would be saying a truthful answer would tend to incriminate me. That`s what he is saying.

HAYES: Right. There is some question about how long this Giuliani/Trump thing is going to last, right? I mean, Robert Costa said this after the Hannity interview where he disclosed this that the White House aide is bewildered this by Giuliani but many say many on staff now feels like they`re not in control of the situation, says POTUS and Giuliani are running their own strategy and have a generational rapport and shared grievances/perspectives. That`s last week. This is today. Some aides say they expect the President to fire Giuliani if his behavior doesn`t change.

BERNSTEIN: Well, Rudy does have a history of flaming out. I mean, he was a mayor that people really liked after 9/11, and he ran for Senate, and that didn`t go anywhere and he ran for president and that didn`t go anywhere, and he was a lead surrogate for Donald Trump during his campaign. He was expected to get a top position in his administration, that didn`t happen. So now we`re in a situation where he`s having his moment of fame where he`s getting to control the narrative, but for now.

HAYES: Is he doing legal damage, Rudy Giuliani?

AKERMAN: Yes, I think he is. I mean, I think he`s making so many contradictory statements that he`s really making it all about himself.

HAYES: Right.

AKERMAN: This is very much --

HAYES: The Scaramucci problem.

AKERMAN: Right. It`s very much like when he was U.S. Attorney. He was the only U.S. Attorney to hire three press people to do nothing but flak him to the press. I mean, when I was there, I mean, we -- they get a mimeograph machine and put out a press release saying so and so was indicted for the following charges. Afterwards, when Giuliani took over, you had a full-blown press release, press conferences where he would make a major press conference out of every indictment, even if he had nothing to do with it.

HAYES: It stood him in good stead as he became the Mayor of New York. He gains largely from the reputation he earned in that position. Andrea Bernstein and Nick Akerman, great to have you both.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, the President`s personal lawyer under siege feeling abandoned by his allies facing mounting legal bill. The tenuous -- the tenuous position of Michael Cohen, the other Trump lawyer, and what it could mean for the President, in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: New reporting this evening on the precarious place occupied by Michael Cohen, the long-time fixer for Donald Trump. Vanity Fair reporting that Cohen, "has been consumed with his legal challenges including the April raid on his home and office by FBI agents as well as recent bizarre meeting interviews with Trump and by his new attorney Rudy Giuliani. The Magazine reports that Cohen has told people I`m sitting here in this nightmare. And that since Giuliani`s media barrage, he feels even more alone. Again, according to Vanity Fair, friends have said that Washington has made a huge mistake in hanging him out to dry. That, one person said, is a dangerous place for him to be. Is Michael Cohen on the verge of flipping? Here to discuss that and other legal engagements present, MSNBC Contributor Natasha Bertrand who covers National Security and Politics for the Atlantic, retired Federal District Judge Nancy Gertner and David Corn, MSNBC Political Analyst and C0-Author of the bestselling book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin`s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. And Natasha, I`ll start with you. Cohen sounds cornered and scared in this latest piece of the Vanity Fair.

NATASHA BERTRAND, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, as he should feel. His office and his home was raided by FBI agents a couple weeks ago and I don`t think he ever expected that it would ever get to this point. He has always been protected by the President. And now, of course, he feels quite alone because the President, of course, is trying to distance himself from Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is for all intents and purposes a ticking time bomb. According to people I speak to they say that it`s really only a matter of time when Michael Cohen is faced with a potential, you know, a really long sentence for, you know, any alleged crimes that he may have committed when he was working for Donald Trump that he, the loyalty will only go so far. And he has a wife and kids that he really, really cares about. I mean, his family, if you go into his office, it`s just -- it`s just it`s Donald Trump and it`s his family. It`s pictures of his daughter. So this is something that`s really going to test him and it makes total sense now that he is feeling a little bit abandoned by the President. Now, of course, we`ve seen people that have said, well, Trump`s telling people and telling the press that Giuliani misspoke, and that he only just started and that he really doesn`t know what he is talking about. Some people interpreted that as a signal to Cohen to look, stay strong. We`re not going to throw you under the bus here. But of course Cohen is worried and he has every right to be.

HAYES: You know, David, there`s a bunch of reporting on Cohen just from the last few days that just sort of makes it kind of on its face case that there is some stuff there that he may -- I mean, you`ve got -- you`ve got a Wall Street Journal story on Friday about the U.S. probing, the cash he built up during the campaign. You`ve got the incredible New York Times piece about all of the sort of elements of the shadowy business empire including a piece about selling four buildings on a single day for $32 million entirely in cash. You read the stories, do you think this is not someone who really is going to be able to withstand the level of scrutiny that he`s now under.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, certainly you don`t get the sense he is a careful and prudent person, which is exactly what you would expect in a Donald Trump lawyer. And I have to say, I don`t have a lot of sympathy. But if this guy has to depend on Rudy Giuliani and what he says on Fox News, he is sunk. I mean, it`s clear that Giuliani doesn`t care about him, unclear if Trump cares at all about him and he`s been involved in the taxi medallion business which has a shady side, an organized crime side up in New York. The real estate deals and his need to borrow money to pay Stormy Daniels which might have been led to bank fraud, I mean we all have said this and heard this before. FBI agents do not raid lawyers` offices unless they have a preponderance of evidence. The only question here is a preponderance of evidence on how many different crimes --

HAYES: Right.

CORN: -- and do any of them reflect his interaction was trump.

HAYES: And Nancy, there is a clock now in that Southern District there is now going to be a special master who is going to go through the files that were raided and has set a fairly aggressive schedule for the President`s lawyers and Michael Cohen to make assertions of privilege. What do you see as a kind of timeline unfolding here?

NANCY GERTNER, RETIRED FEDERAL DISTRICT JUDGE: Well, I mean, I think that she`s under considerable pressure. This is Judge Jones whom I know. She`s under considerable pressure to move quickly. It`s already -- it was already an extraordinary gesture by Judge Wood to appoint a special master. Ordinarily you -- that sort of airing an abundance of caution kind of thing. Ordinarily, you would allow the government`s taint team to go through the evidence. So this is out of an abundance of caution. I think you`ll see her move very quickly, especially if the media reports are right, which is this is one part lawyer-client, and, you know, ten parts of his business dealings unrelated to any attorney-client privilege.

HAYES: You know, you were a Federal Judge, and you were a Federal District Court Judge. So you had people coming through your courtroom. I`m just curious. In your -you`re your experience, did you have -- how often would you have an FBI raiding a lawyer or dealing with this kind of thing?

GERTNER: Never. Not once.

HAYES: Wow.

GERTNER: It is extremely unusual. There`s no question about it. And I mean, I think -- I think that David Corn`s comment makes perfect sense which is the levels that the U.S. Attorney`s Office, that the FBI has to go through to get such a warrant are considerable. It doesn`t mean that mistakes aren`t made.

HAYES: Sure.

GERTNER: But when you add to that that this is the President`s lawyer, the levels are even more substantial. And now you add to that when we see the good deal of this was not lawyering at all but business dealings as to which there is no privilege.

HAYES: There is another story that sort of caught my eye because it -- one of the messages you hear from the White House and even the President`s tweets about it today is that it`s a two-part message. There is no collusion. That`s a dead letter. No one`s collusion. I`m cleared. The only thing they have is a made up is obstruction and that`s just me fighting back. That`s the sort of two prongs. But every time you hear something out of the actual Mueller investigation, it still looks like they`re still hunting collusion. And one of the examples of this is that we just found out that the Russian billionaire oligarch was basically pulled off a private plane in New York and questioned by Mueller`s team and his devices were searched. And it turns out this guy was at the inauguration of all things and was at the R.T. dinner with Michael Flynn. And it`s just every time it seems to me you get a glimpse of that investigation, it sure does look like they are still hot on the trail of collusion.

BERTRAND: Oh, absolutely. It`s running on a parallel track and it`s because this was always the original mandate. This was always Mueller`s original mandate. It was to investigate whether or not the Trump Campaign colluded with Russia. The obstruction aspect only came later because the President fired his FBI Director, so everything kind of came out of that. But the -- in terms of the collusion investigation, it`s obviously much more complex. It spans -- you know, it`s the U.S., it`s Europe, it`s Russia. There are a ton of different players. But this news about the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg who got pulled off his plane and questioned by Mueller, that is hugely significant because according to my sources, Vekselberg is considered a fairly stand-up business guy as you can be in Russia. He`s not generally accused of the kind of, you know, bribery and money laundering that many, many other Russian oligarchs, or at least not to the extent that others are. Vekselberg though was at Trump`s inauguration, which raised a lot of questions. Why was he there? Why was he given priority seating, for example? And he -- you know, it just raises more questions about what the Trump Campaign`s ties were to these wealthy Russians.

HAYES: Nancy --

CORN: Chris --

HAYES: Sorry, Nancy you want to say something, and then David.

GERTNER: Well, also, the Manafort -- the Manafort case, you have to step back from the Manafort case. The Manafort case itself was about Russian collusion. That`s how it started. He is a campaign manager. He winds up with substantial ties to the Russia-Ukraine contingent. And when U.S. Attorneys go into court to justify the charges against Manafort, they put it squarely in the midst of the Russian collusion theory. And he really -- I mean, if you recall, he becomes the campaign chair because of we believe Roger Stone`s recommendation. Roger Stone was the person who is connected to WikiLeaks. Manafort is really I think the center of the Russian collusion investigation, which now has other tentacles.

HAYES: David?

CORN: I want to make a point about Viktor Vekselberg, something that we at Mother Jones reported months ago. It wasn`t just that he was at the Trump inauguration. His cousin who runs his American business gave $250,000 to the Trump inauguration.

HAYES: Right.

CORN: This guy had never given more than a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand dollars to candidates in both Democrats and Republicans, not known as a big donor. So why all of the sudden is he giving a quarter of a million dollars? His own money, somebody else`s money? I mean, we do know that Mueller interviewed Tom Barrack who is the head of the inaugural committee. I would have hoped they asked about this donation and other donations to that committee that came from Russian or Russian-related sources.

HAYES: I will close by noting that there are as far as we can tell like tens of millions of dollars of the inauguration that are not really fully nailed down and accounted for at this point which is the sort of thing that hangs out there. Natasha Bertrand, Nancy Gertner, and David Corn thank you all for joining me. Next, an explosive story tonight about abuse allegations, physical, verbal abuse allegations against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. We`ll talk about that after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Breaking news tonight. The New Yorker reporting on disturbing allegations against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Four different women, two of them on the record and named, who speak at length throughout the article accusing the current attorney general for New York State of physical violence. Quote, they allege he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent.

In a statement to NBC, Schneiderman denied the allegations, saying the privacy of intimate relationship I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross. We have one source telling us tonight that Governor Cuomo -- telling The New York Times that Governor Cuomo will be calling for Eric Schneiderman`s resignation. We`ll keep our eyes on that.

Joining me now to discuss this is attorney Lisa Green.

That intro doesn`t do justice to the scope of what is contained herein.

LISA GREEN, ATTORNEY: No, they`re pretty sickening allegations. And what`s notable about the reporting is how consistent the stories are.

And something else, Chris. You know, if we knew anyone who was subjected to this kind of abuse that is alleged in this article, you`d immediately tell them it`s best practices to call a domestic violence hotline and get yourself to a safe place. And what I find so striking is how terrified these women were not in incomprehensibly -- after all, when your alleged perpetrator says things like "I am the law" or I could have you wiretap -- and I encourage people to look at the full article to see some of the scope of what these women allege was the pressure that Schneiderman put on them to remain quiet.

HAYES: Well, a few things about that, one is the pattern here is physical violence -- slapping so hard, hitting so hard that women went to doctors, ear nose and throat specialists.

GREEN: Choking.

HAYES: Choking, verbally belittling, but then also threatening -- this is where the sort of official part of this comes in -- threatening them essentially with his power as the top law enforcement official for the state of New York.

GREEN: And all that while he simultaneously championing the cause of women, right -- reproductive rights, going back into the Weinstein investigation, insisting that victims get superior damages, calling -- running an investigation, if I remember correctly, on behalf of Governor Cuomo to look into why criminal charges weren`t brought. Surely that`s over.

HAYES: Right.

GREEN: And I think it`s the seeming hypocrisy that is what drove some of these women to finally come forward. It cannot have been an easy decision for them.

HAYES: There is also, it seems to me, some real legal exposure if these allegations are true.

GREEN: Civil lawsuits and possibly criminal action, depending on how these crimes are defined, statutes of limitations. Again, the incredible irony of this story, Chris, we`re talking about women who felt uncomfortable coming forward about a man in power, but the man in power is himself someone who really carved out a place as a champion of women`s rights. The mind almost can`t carry both these ideas at the same time.

HAYES: In fact, one of the most perverse ironies here is that he wrote -- when a New York State political official was accused of strangling a woman, and it was revealed that I guess the criminal code did not have a crime for that, he actually wrote the bill to criminalize that. He is accused of doing precisely that in this article.

GREEN: Yeah, first he criminalized it, and then he inflicted that exact act on women, according to these women. And it is hard to imagine anyone - - what is the expression, hoist by your own petard? I mean, to behave in that way with full awareness of the consequences while at the same time leading a day job that puts you out there as a champion of women.

Again, the -- I think it`s the juxtaposition that is one of the most shocking things about this reporting in addition to the detail.

HAYES: I should state that these are allegations. They are denied by the attorney general, but there is a tremendous amount of corroborating evidence in terms of contemporaneous accounts, including the reporting. People telling their friends about it, people keeping journal entries, emailing other people. There is documentation from doctors. So, there is a fair amount here. This is a -- if the attorney general is going to attempt to rebut these charges, he very much has his work cut out for him.

GREEN: Yeah. I mean, it`s meticulous reporting. And I guess one of the things I find so sad is even these accomplished women often blame themselves, and that`s a pattern we see throughout some of these #metoo stories. And I just find it really troubling.

HAYES: He is also, we should also we should note, he has been a guest on the show. He sat in that seat right there. It is what is alleged in the article is despicable and horrifying sort of past what -- it brings you up short what is described, the terror that he inflicted allegedly on the women who speak.

Also, yet another incredible piece of reporting from the New Yorker, from Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, who is just doing an incredible job right now.

Lisa Green, thanks for being here.

GREEN: Sure.

HAYES: Ahead, midterms for the party of Trump. Why toxic candidates are filling Republican ballots, coming up.

And more medals for Scott Pruitt in the swamp Olympics. Thing One, Thing Two, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing One tonight, a new window into the paranoid world of EPA chief Scott Pruitt. The New York Times combed through 10,000 documents released as part of a Sierra Club FOIA request. Among their findings, emails show agency officials defining perspective guests at events as friendly or unfriendly, and at one meeting in Iowa billed as a townhall event, Mr. Pruitt questions presented to him that were written by EPA officials, which might seem par for the course for a guy with a $43,000 phone booth who traveled first class for months so he wouldn`t be accosted by the regular people in coach.

But now Scott Pruitt`s bunker mentality has reached new extremes. According to Axios, Pruitt`s chief of staff Ryan Jackson runs the agency`s operations, but rarely knows where his boss is. All of us have been frozen out over time, one EPA political appointee told Axios. Everyone is miserable. Nobody talks. It`s a drywall prison.

Of course, it`s rational to be paranoid when you have a lot you don`t want people to know, like what you really did last summer on a $120,000 government funded trip to Rome. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Tonight, tonight at long last, apparently senior White House staffers are urging President Trump to fire Scott Pruitt. Top administration officials telling The New York Times that the president`s enthusiasm for Pruitt may be cooling. Huh, cooling. Because of the ongoing cascade of alleged ethical and legal missteps.

Well you could put it that way. Pruitt is, after all, the subject of 11, count them, federal investigations. He is the Usain Bolt of the swamp Olympics. And he apparently has a mantra, telling energy executives, quote, whoever said you can`t have your cake and eat it too doesn`t know what to do with cake.

I don`t think I even understand that, but it sounds wrong.

And speaking of eating, there are brand-new details about Pruitt`s two-day, $120,000 government-funded trip to Italy with staff last year, according to the daily beast. Four, count them, four work-related events took up four hours of Pruitt`s time according to his schedule. By contrast, Pruitt had three private non work-related meals, including one at a five star hotel which took up five and a half hours of his schedule. That`s a long meal.

So $120,000 to get in four hours of work, five and a half hours of fine dining. Even for a man who likes to have his cake and eat it too, that`s a high-priced slice.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON BLANKENSHIP, REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Swamp Captain Mitch McConnell has created millions of jobs for China people. While doing so, Mitch has gotten rich. In fact, his China family has given him tens of millions of dollars.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Is that guy about to win a primary in the Republican Party? Well, establishment Republicans are freaking out tonight about that very possibility, the possibility that despite a criminal record, no natural political constituency, and shall we say charitably a notable lack of charisma? Notorious coal baron Don Blankenship may be about to win that GOP Senate nomination in West Virginia.

Blankenship served a year in federal prison, you might remember, for his role in violating mine safety rules in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine accident that left 29 miners dead.

Despite that fact, Blankenship has been surging ahead of tomorrow`s West Virginia senate primary with internal GOP polls reportedly showing him narrowly leading two more establishment rivals. Now, Blankenship has done it by spending heavily on the race, and by essentially embracing the role of the villain, someone who rails against Mitch McConnell as, quote, Cocaine Mitch, who repeatedly uses ethnic slurs and who places the blame for the 2010 deaths of 29 men at his mine squarely on the Obama administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLANKENSHIP: Having all Obama judges, having all Obama prosecutors, it`s as obvious as it can possibly be that the Upper Big Branch explosion was caused by the government and that there was nothing that I could do to prevent it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Republicans feared that a Blankenship primary victory would hand the general election to Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin in a state that Trump won by 42 points. So, this morning, after an appeal apparently from McConnell, Trump got involved tweeting to West Virignians, "Don Blankenship running currently running for Senate can`t win the general election in your state, no way." Trump then urged the state`s Republicans to vote for either of Blankenship`s rivals.

Now, Blankenship`s entire campaign has been predicated on the message that the left hates him, and so Mitch McConnell, I guess, so he deserves your vote. And it seems to be working. But why? Why are conservatives so eager to rally around the most deplorable of candidates so long as they trigger the libs? I`ll be joined by a panel of conservatives to try to answer that very question, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: There are primaries in four states tomorrow, including West Virginia, where polls show notorious coal baron Don Blankenship with a real shot at winning the GOP Senate primary, at least internal polls from campaigns, take with a grain of salt, despite severing a year in prison for his role in a mine disaster that killed 29 people.

Joining me now to discuss why Blankenship and similar candidates resonate with the GOP base, former Reagan administration official official Linda Chavez; columnist and former Reagan administration official Mona Charen; and Leon Wolf, managing editor of the conservative website The Blaze.

Leon, how is Blankenship in the running?

LEON WOLF, MANAGING EDITOR, THE BLAZE: Well, I think that what a lot of Republican voters have learned is -- or at least have decided for themselves is they kind of want to get the same high and positive feeling that they get out of rooting for a sports team that wins. They really like just the feeling of winning more than they like principles. And I think, rightly or wrongly, that a lot of Republicans perceive that for years Democrats have basically stood by their candidates almost no matter what they said or did, and I still hear people talking about, well, they stood by Ted Kennedy for years after Chappaquiddick. They stood by Bill Clinton through everything he did. They stood by Joe Biden after he bragged about Delaware being a slave state, that they have just decided that these are the rules that we`re going to play by too, and so rightly or wrongly this is kind of where we are.

HAYES: Do you really think that`s a fair symmetry with the way things are now? I just don`t see anyone in a Democratic primary like Roy Moore, like there`s just no Democratic Roy Moore right now. There just isn`t.

WOLF: Well, I mean, look. I mean, Dennis Kucinich has definitely said some bizarre things. And he`s still involved in a reasonably competitive race that`s going out tomorrow as well.

But, no I`m not saying that they`re equivalent now, and I definitely think that there`s kind of this air of triumphalism that is maybe a little over the top of what you see on the Democratic side, but I`m telling you that`s the perception. And I think that`s what`s fueling a lot of what you`re seeing out there in terms of people just we`ll be OK with anything as long as our guy wins.

HAYES: Mona, what do you think?

MONA CHAREN, COLUMNIST: Well, you notice that the president tweeted that people should not vote for Blankenship, reminded them of what happened in Alabama, but of course this is a real problem because the logic of the Trump campaign was nihilism. Let`s blow it all up. The system is completely corrupt. You need somebody like me. You know, I`ll be a wrecking ball, if you send me to Washington. That was the logic of the Trump appeal. And a lot of people went for that in the Republican Party.

And now Trump is in the position of saying, well, whoa, I didn`t mean, you know, recently released felons or whatever he was convicted of -- people who were responsible for the deaths of 29 miners.

But this thing has a momentum and a life of its own, and even Trump is having trouble controlling what has been unleashed.

HAYES: Is there something different now, Linda, or does this go back a while?

LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER REAGAN OFFICIAL: Well, I think there is something different. And I think it is the T word, but it`s not triumphalism, it`s tribalism. And I think that`s very much what`s at play here, it is sort of like a sports team or a tribe. Republicans are involved in a culture war. They`ve picked sides. They`ve decided that the Republican Party represents an America that Trump sees and I think Don Blankenship, his China people ad may very well have resonated with some of those voters.

HAYES: I think it did. But I just want interject one thing here, we`re talking about a primary. OK, I understand the sort of cruel tribalist logic of look, you vote for the nominee of your party because they`re going to go and they`re going to vote on judges and do all this stuff. But they have a choice. They`ve got three Republicans. You do not have to vote for the guy who`s responsible for a mine that killed 29 people. There`s two other people. They hate Barack Obama. They love Donald Trump. They`re Republicans. You don`t -- you have Luther Strange in Alabama. I do not get this desire to vote for a person who seems the most odious when you`re just choosing between other Republicans.

CHAVEZ: Well, because they don`t -- they don`t consider people like Mona Charon, or myself, as conservatives even though our conservative credentials go way, way back. They don`t consider us part of the tribe. And I think they`re looking for people like Donald Trump who are politically incorrect.

I think political incorrectness has become now a badge of honor in the Republican Party, and Don Blankenship knew exactly what he was doing when he ran that China people ad.

HAYES: Leon.

CHAREN: To the point where Steve Bannon has said that you should wear the charge of racism as a badge of honor.

WOLF: I would explain it slightly differently. I think that it`s mainly - - it`s one thing, it`s nice to win, but it`s even nicer if you can win while rubbing your opponent`s face in it.

HAYES: Right.

WOLF: And I think that`s what they got with Trump, and I think that`s what they`re trying to get with Blankenship. Here`s somebody they really hate, so let`s go with them.

HAYES: That`s exactly what it is. It`s all the right enemies, right? The idea is there`s this sort of -- there`s this kind of bank shot logic, which is that if these people - - if the right people hate me then I have to be good. And you end up in these crazy situations where you`re like -- you`re voting for a guy that`s alleged in Alabama to have molested children, because it`s making the liberals crazy.

CHAREN: People on both sides are marinating in hatred. Both Republicans and Democrats.

Honestly, what does the Democratic Party stand for this year? Nothing except hating Trump, which is understandable. But -- and the Republican Party doesn`t stand for anything. The Republicans are doing nothing on Capitol Hill. They`re not interested in doing anything except rubbing liberals` noses in people that they find odious.

CHAVEZ: But the problem is if somebody like Don Blankenship actually gets the nomination, he`s going to go exactly the way Roy Moore did and he`s going to lose, so all these people...

HAYES: I don`t know about that.

CHAVEZ: ...are going to lose.

HAYES: Let me just say this, though -- to respond to that, obviously the mechanisms by which people justify things on their team I think is something that extends across the political spectrum. I 100 percent agree. People will excuse all kinds of behavior.

But the reason I`m so focused on the primaries here, because there`s a seeking out happening in the primaries that`s different than, you know, OK, we have to stand by this person who`s been accused because we can`t let them take a scalp, right, on the other team. Like, that -- the perversity there, the sort of luxuriating in the perversity that really is what it seems to me is happening with Moore and with Blankenship and with Trump does seem distinct. It doesn`t seem that`s a symmetrical phenomenon in American life right now to me.

CHAREN: I agree.

CHAVEZ: And you have got people like Joe Arpaio in Arizona. There you have -- you know, vice president...

CHAREN: Or Kelli Ward.

CHAVEZ: Kelli Ward in Arizona. Same thing.

HAYES: Leon, can you explain to me -- I understand that party leadership is often not very popular with the faithful. But it was interesting to me that Blankenship chose Mitch McConnell -- basically, he`s like here`s who I`m going to run against. I`m not going to run against my opponents, I`m just going to run against Mitch McConnell, like just out of -- and it was a somewhat similar strategy Roy Moore took on. Explain what that`s about.

WOLF: Well, I mean, as you mentioned, we are in a Republican primary. You know, so he`s not -- he has no reason to attack the Democrat right now. And kind of the surest way to align yourself with the part of the party who`s most closely aligned with Trump and is very popular in West Virginia is to take on the Republican establishment.

But, you know...

HAYES: But why do they hate him so much? Like, what does that -- you can take on people and it doesn`t work. But there`s something there that says Mitch McConnell is what?

WOLF: Well, Mitch McConnell is just kind of a symbol of what basically Trump was elected to combat I think in a lot of these people`s minds, which is business as usual in Washington. People who say they`re going to get things done and they don`t get things done. And we have seen some continuation of that even with the Republican president.

I mean, for years Mitch McConnell promised that an Obamacare repeal was coming. The excuse was, well, we don`t have enough senators. We don`t have enough representatives. The president is going to veto it. All those things were washed away in 2016. He still doesn`t get if done at the end of the day.

So, there`s a lot of frustration I think built up.

HAYES: Mona, you get the final word here.

CHAREN: In another world -- in another universe I guess, you could imagine a situation in which President Trump would say to Blankenship, how dare you impugn my secretary of transportation and make racist comments about her? You know, you are excommunicated. But of course that`s not the Trump style.

HAYES: That`s a great point, as opposed to the meta argument that he can`t win the general as opposed to you`re acting in a despicable fashion and you have the blood of 29 miners on your hands.

CHAREN: Exactly.

HAYES: Linda Chavez, Mona Charen and Leon Wolf, thank you all for being with me.

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

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