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The President finally comes clean on Stormy. TRANSCRIPT: 05/16/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Rosalind Halderman, Adam Schiff, Clint Watts, Neal Katyal, Harry Litman, Maxine Waters, Ryan Grim

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 16, 2018 Guest: Rosalind Halderman, Adam Schiff, Clint Watts, Neal Katyal, Harry Litman, Maxine Waters, Ryan Grim

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No.

HAYES: President Trump finally comes clean.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER, STORMY DANIELS: Michael Cohen will lead to the downfall of this President.

HAYES: Tonight, new legal trouble for Donald Trump as he finally discloses the payment that went to Stormy Daniels. Plus, the Qatari investor who now says Michael Cohen hit him up for $1 million. Then --

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: MY take away when all of this was going on is that someone has information on our opponent.

HAYES: Congressman Adam Schiff on Donald Trump Jr.`s amnesia about meeting Russians for dirt on his father`s opponent in Trump Tower.

TRUMP JR.: It was such a nothing. I really wouldn`t have remembered the meeting.

HAYES: And the New York Times break the inside story of how the FBI sat on facts that could have devastated the Trump Campaign.

TRUMP: I am a big fan of the FBI. I love the FBI.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. It is now official, on the record in black and white. Donald Trump the President of the United States did in fact pay off Stormy Daniels shortly before the election to keep her from going public about their alleged sexual encounter. Trump admits it right here in this document, his 2017 financial disclosure form which we got today and what is also at this point pretty much official is that the President Donald Trump was lying when he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael -- why did Michael Cohen make it if there was no truth to the allegations.

TRUMP: You would have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you`ll have to ask Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Who knows? I don`t know. That payment, that guy, Michael Cohen. Trump said he did not know about the payment, didn`t know where Michael Cohen got the money but here`s what`s in his financial disclosure form in a footnote on page 45 thought it probably should have been in big letters on page one. "In 2016, expenses were incurred -- nice words of passive words there -- by one of Donald J. Trump`s attorneys Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017. The category of value would be $101,000 to $250,000 and the interest rate would be zero. According to Trump`s lawyers, Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 right in that $100,000 to $250,000 range. Now Trump is claiming this was no big deal. He or rather his lawyer said in the financial disclosure form they were only revealing the information quote -- and I`m quoting this directly, "in the interest of transparency as the payment is not required to be disclosed a reportable liabilities." Basically they`re arguing this was just reimbursement of expenses not a loan, so it wasn`t illegal and Trump wasn`t required to disclose a payment. But you know who`s not buying that? The government`s top ethics official David Apol who released a letter to Rod Rosenstein in conjunction with the financial disclosure. He asserted that the Office of Government Ethics had concluded that "the payment made by Mr. Cohen is in fact required to be reported as a liability despite Trump`s claim" and added that Rosenstein "may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing." So that`s certainly something. Indeed, according to David Apol`s predecessor Water Shaub, the letters tantamount to a criminal referral. OGE has effectively reported the President to DOJ for potentially committing a crime. Joining me now to break this down, Georgetown University Law Professor Neal Katyal, former Acting U.S. Solicitor General under President Obama. Neal, the legal significance of the President both putting this in writing and the referral by OGE.

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes, they`re both huge. This is a big deal. And you know, it`s not just that the President has finally come clean on what happened with Stormy Daniels, it`s also that you know, there is this almost a criminal referral which is an extraordinary thing. Our government`s top ethics officer sent this financial disclosure report that President Trump signed today and sent it to Rod Rosenstein and said, hey, that may be relevant in the criminal investigation you`ve got ongoing, then that`s an extraordinary thing. This is an apolitical office, it`s the same office that President Trump last year tried to file -- tried to file you know, his disclosure form without signing it for the first time in history. It`s kind of like filing your tax returns without signing them or something. The government ethics office balked at that last year and this year taken a very extraordinary step.

HAYES: I want to just zero in that you mentioned which people may have lost forgotten. He tried to file it and not sign the part that certified the contents were true. Is that right?

KATYAL: Exactly. It`s kind of like you know, putting -- you know, having your fingers crossed behind your back or something while you`re signing it.

HAYES: It`s a real tell.

KATYAL: Yes, I mean, you know -- and you know, for anyone that would be bad. We`re talking here about the President of the United States. Someone should be above all of this reproach.

HAYES: I want to ask about another question about the criminal inquiry into the President of the United States that comes from the President`s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani is telling people now today that he was told by someone on Mueller`s team that Mueller doesn`t plan to indict Trump because of DOJ rules. That`s what Rudy Giuliani says. You are very familiar with the rules. You have a lot to say about this bit of news have at it.

KATYAL: Yes, so the first thing is, it`s extraordinary we`re even talking about this. Again, we`re talking about the President of the United States. This isn`t like such two law professors like me and you know, Kate trying to say, oh, would it be -- you know, do you think the President is going to be indicted or something? This is Mueller, the Special Counsel having a conversation with Giuliani. Now, Giuliani, of course, is not you know, a stickler for details so we don`t know exactly what was said but it does seems very incomplete because the special counsel rules do in fact permit Mueller to depart from DOJ policy and the way to do that is he has to ask the Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to do so. But he certainly has a path forward if he wanted to. Now, it may be that Giuliani you know, was trying to negotiate with Mueller and said, you know, we`re not going to show up, the President is not going to show up. He`s going to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and Mueller`s team said well, you know, under DOJ policy, there is no incrimination to be had because we can`t indict a sitting president or something like that. That would be a very, very bad thing for the President if the Fifth Amendment is removed which is you know, basically the only thing standing between him and testifying right now with Mueller.

HAYES: To your first point, it is worthy lingering on that for a moment and reminds me when people in the president`s circles were speculating about whether Michael Cohen would flip. And what was implicit in that, wasn`t -- well, there`s nothing for him to tell the investigators because the President hasn`t done anything wrong. It was no, obviously the President has done wrong things. Will he flip? Rudy Giuliani coming out and telling everyone we`ve been told under DOJ rules, the President could be indicted seems to be a little odd as opposed to the President has done nothing indictable.

KATYAL: Exactly. It sure suggests that he has. And you know, Cohen, I think, you know, the story that Cohen has been telling you know, I think is falling apart really quickly. The idea that this $130,000 was not a campaign contribution, I mean, that story smells both on timing and the manner. The timing, the payment was made ten -- 11 days before the election. The affair was like ten years old. All of a sudden, magic? You know, he`s got to pay. And then the timing of this, remember, you know, Trump is a so-called billionaire. He has a lot of money. Cohen goes in and takes a home equity loan out to pay the $130,000 you know, right before election. The whole thing smells and indeed, I think that this campaign contribution of $130,000 it`s not just a campaign contribution, it may be the most significant campaign contribution in United States history. It turned an election. And you know, the idea that the Trump lawyers are standing around saying, oh, it`s you know, for his personal life or something like that is to use the technical legal term poppycock.

HAYES: Neal Katyal, thanks for being with me. More breaking news tonight to tell you about and it has been a wild day on that score. The New Yorker speaking to a law enforcement official who claims to be the individual who leaked Michael Cohen`s bank records, a whistle-blower. "The official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen`s financial activity in a government database. The official worried that that information was being withheld from law enforcement released the remaining documents. The two missing reports reportedly involved more than $3 million in additional transactions which we have not seen, triple the amount in the report that was released last week. With me now to talk about this breaking news, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General and U.S. Attorney Harry Litman. All right, this is a crazy story on a number of fronts. First, your reaction to the fact that a whistleblower and a law enforcement official essentially leaked what is a suspicious activity report from a bank to the public.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, crazy story capping a crazy head- spinning day. How many weeks ago did we hear about Donald Trump Jr.`s testimony in front of the Senate? That was -- that was 9:00 a.m. this morning. Everything`s happened since. Yes, and this latest development, Chris, bizarre with a capital B. The actual event underlying it, the possibility of a disappearance of an SAR from the Treasury Department database, I don`t know of any mechanism for doing it. It is completely unprecedented. And then as you say, the wrinkle of a law enforcement officer being the one who came forward -- and by the way, he produce it to Avenatti? Did he try first to just you know, go to superiors in the Treasury Department and say what exactly is going on here? It is really head spinning. That said, you know, there are echoes of Watergate here. The conscience-stricken law enforcement officer coming forward and in the bad movie version of this, somehow Trump or Cohen has succeeded in vaporizing these reports. I just can`t believe it. Somehow for some -- in some mechanism that I`ve never heard of, I think it has to have been either Mueller or the SDNY that for some reason was able to remove these two reports from the file. But this is a huge database that everybody uses. We`ll know eventually. But how it was done and by what mechanism is completely befuddling right now.

HAYES: So let me start I just -- just to sort of lay the groundwork here. So there`s -- these are suspicious activity reports that banks -- thousands of banks and thousands of these reports are filed where compliance officers at banks see a transfer or something happening in the account, they go, it doesn`t quite look right and they file it with what`s called FinCEN at the Treasury Department. Have you -- is that a thing that you in your capacity as U.S. Attorney and capacity at being in Justice, it`s something you interact with, right?

LITMAN: All the time. So, suspicious activity reports are no big deal. They happen, you know, hundreds of times a day. What happened here is the first republic bank where Cohen had set up the essential consultants account flagged something, it could have been the source of funds, the multiplicity of funds, the wires apparently looked a little bit silly or unusual so they flagged it. And then there`s the suspicious activity report, but it refers to two other reports from the same bank that the law enforcement official after reading this couldn`t find in this database which yes, is used all the time by multiple agencies. And so it would have been a natural thing to say well, let me look at these other two. And by the way, there were different SARs filed by other banks, as well in the whole kind of stew --

HAYES: All around Cohen, yes.

LITMAN: All around Cohen and Essential Consultants. They`re going to figure in importantly when they -- when they bring the charges against Cohen. But yes, it`s a very routine thing but then there`s a reference to two other reports and he just can`t find them. And as I say, I don`t know how -- I know of no mechanism for getting -- scrubbing the network here to erase reports.

HAYES: That right now -- I just want -- that is an outstanding question posed here. It`s not answering the piece of reporting in the New Yorker by Ronan Farrow. There`s some question, you just suggested it`s possible, so explosive and the database is accessible by thousands of people. Lots of folks have access to this database to be clear --

LITMAN: That`s true.

HAYES: -- that they were worried about it and so either Mueller`s team or SDNY took them offline. The concern it appears the whistleblower had is that they were scrubbed nefariously to aid the President. What do you think of that?

LITMAN: Well, I find it less plausible than Mueller or SDNY. Again, by some unknown mechanism thinking, we don`t want the thousands of people doing this and actually going through official channels and making it happen. And if that`s so, it will all be revealed. But the most sinister overtone that somehow Trump or Trump and Cohen managed to vaporize it, I cannot get might head around though if it happened, I want the movie rights.

HAYES: Yes, I want to say that there are a bunch of details in the report about what was actually in that suspicious (INAUDIBLE) report which are fascinating and raise lots more questions. Harry Litman, thank you. And everyone stay tuned because Ronan Farrow who`s on the hottest reporting streak in recent journalistic memory, honestly, and authored that report, yet another scoop will be joining Rachel Maddow coming up. You want to stick around for that. With me now, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat of California also crucially Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, the committee that has oversight statutory authority over the financial system that is very intimately familiar with the ways in which the financial system is compelled to report things suspiciously. And I want to get first your reaction to this news that the -- a whistleblower leaked a suspicious activity report about Michael Cohen.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICE COMMITTEE: Well, allow me to add something else that`s breaking news and that is the fact that I sent a letter to the Treasury Secretary Mnuchin in January. And this is what I asked. Have you ever directed or has any other Trump administration official, Trump campaign official, or Trump family member called on you to direct U.S. Treasury officials or staff members to obscure, destroy, or withhold information implicating the President, Trump campaign officials, Trump family members or his associates. We asked for this information. We never got a response from the Treasury Secretary and now we`re finding out that it had been scrubbed. The whistleblower who went to look for the information discovered that it was not there. Where did it go? It did not move by itself. Someone removed this information and the Treasury Secretary is going to have to answer for this.

HAYES: Let me shake sure I understood. That letter you wrote back in January to the Treasury Secretary to say look, Mr. Secretary, I would like confirmation in writing that you have never been asked to destroy or obscure any records having to do with the President or his associates and what was his response?

WATERS: None. No response. He did not answer us at all.

HAYES: And no explanation? They just didn`t respond?

WATERS: No explanation no, response, no nothing. And we was asking because we thought there may be suspicious activity. And if there was suspicious activity, we would know where it might come from but we also know that it would be sent to FinCEN and it would be deposited there and he would know, should know or could go to it and find it and respond to us and he didn`t. The question is, why did he ignore us?

HAYES: Did you -- did you come into any specific information to make its way to your office that would prompt you to have a concern that the Treasury Department might be doing something to obstruct, destroy, or obscure records.

WATERS: Well, specifically, that`s what out letter ask of him. Did they know about it --

HAYES: But I mean, I`m saying -- I guess, I`m asking, is there something specific that prompted it or it was just a concern you had generally because the President`s finances might end up being investigated?

WATERS: Yes, don`t forget, we were also taking a look at the relationship to Deutsche Bank at the time.

HAYES: Right.

WATERS: And so because my staff has been so involved in taking a look at the movement of money and some of the allegations of money laundering, et cetera, we`re just looking. And so we thought we`d better ask whether or not there was any suspicious activity that had been forwarded to FinCEN. And so it was not specific, it was general.

HAYES: Are your suspicions heightened based on the news that just broke about a whistleblower fearing that something was scrubbed.

WATERS: Absolutely, absolutely. And I think the Treasury Secretary is going to having to answer to this question. And I want you to know that I think that the ethics officer that directed it to Mueller and said to him, this may be relevant to your investigation is absolutely correct and he did a good thing.

HAYES: You`re saying the Office of Government Ethics that referred the President`s payment. I have another question about that disclosure form the President signed today which disclosed a year late that payment. It also says I think the trump hotels has brought in about $40 million in the past year. Is it problematic to you that the President and the Republican Party use and promote this hotel, the President is so clearly benefiting from?

WATERS: Well, absolutely. And you know, questions have been raised about that. And I think one organization that looks into this kind of thing have you know, asked for investigations into whether or not there`s a violation of the Constitution or whether or not laws have been broken because obviously, it appears that the President is you know, helping to direct business and he`s making money on it. And that there are those who are coming from foreign countries who are glad to comply with this request to stay at the hotel because they think they`re going to create some favor with him. And so it`s all very criminal looking and it doesn`t look good for the President of the United States to be involved in business while he is the president of the United States making money off of a government location. That location belongs to the government. He`s only leasing that location. And I think the constitution says that no one should be able to you know, have a lease or have business that they have incurred because of their relationship to government.

HAYES: I guess the final question is, do you think you`ll get an answer from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to your January letter given the news that just broke?

WATERS: No, I don`t expect an answer from him. But now that it has been leaked and now that the ethics officer have sent it to Mueller, I think now that it will be investigated. It could be investigated. And more can be found out about how that information got out of that database. Who took it out? Why did they take it out? And so I hope that the investigation will be able to answer those questions.

HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, thank you so much for being with me.

WATERS: You`re welcome. Thank you.

HAYES: Next, we have more news that broke today on the secret slush fund of the President`s lawyer. Tonight, a Qatari investor has just come forward on the record, and he`s saying that Michael Cohen approached him with a million dollar offer. The reporter who broke that story in two minutes.

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HAYES: All right, so as we told you last night, right here at this desk, the Daily Mail, a British paper, had a pretty wild story which we weren`t quite sure what to make of it. It broke a little bit before we came on air. And the tabloid claimed that a Qatari investor named Ahmed al-Rumaihi who met with Trump transition officials at Trump Tower in December 2016, just a month or so after the election told, that he had told people that Michael Cohen had asked for millions of dollars which he would pass to Trump family members which is a whoa if true but we didn`t know if it was true. Now that story had a single anonymous source but now the guy at the center of it, Ahmed al-Rumaihi himself has gone on the record and his claims are not quite that but they are still pretty sensational. He told Ryan Grim of the Intercept that Cohen asked him straight up for a million dollars up front during a conversation about potential Qatari investment in U.S. infrastructure. NBC News have now confirmed that claim with a spokesman for al-Rumaihi. And joining me now is Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau Chief for the intercept who broke that story. Great reporting Ryan. All right, let`s just -- let`s set the conducts here. al-Rumaihi runs -- ran an investment fund for the Qatari government. Is that right?

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE INTERCEPT: Yes, he was a senior official in their sovereign wealth fund which is worth a couple of trillion dollars but he had responsibility for a piece of it that had about you know, $100 billion or so. And he was coming to the U.S. looking to invest roughly $50 billion infrastructure fund. You know, it was time to make America great again and you know, thought there could be a marriage between you know, what they were looking for and what Trump wanted.

HAYES: So he`s here and he`s thinking Trump ran on infrastructure making America great again, we got $50 million in capital we want to invest in the U.S., maybe we can figure out some ways to invest in infrastructure here that sort of help everybody out.

GRIM: Yes. Trump even name-checked their airports if you remember during the campaign. You know, he trashed New York airports and said, you know, if you go to Doha, you know, you should see the airports they have over there. So back in Doha, they`re like, well, hey, we can build these airports over here for you. Let`s -- you know, let`s do this. And you know, they were as stunned as every other country and every other American at that time. This is December 2016 so people are trying to figure out you know, who this administration is and how you do business with them.

HAYES: And so Michael Cohen and him are talking about this kind of idea, some idea of that fund investing in the U.S. and then what happens?

GRIM: So it started to get weird when Michael Cohen floats this in an unorthodox approach. He says look, how about -- and this is kind of a fictional version of America, but Cohen according to al-Rumaihi says something like, you know, how about we go out and we find a mid-western town where a steel plant is about to close down and you guys buy the steel plant and you know, me and some partners come in or some partners come in who have the knowhow and you know, they run it, you save the town, you save the steel plant and then you split the profits 50-50 with the partners and you guys and everybody wins. And he says, he`s thinking well, certainly, there are a lot of winners in this scenario but the people who just kind of get to own half of a factory are among those. And so, at that point, he says, well, what kind of projects do you have in mind. He says, well, before we go any further, I`ll need $1 million.

HAYES: So Michael Cohen -- Michael Cohen first floats some crazy let`s go into business idea of 50-50, your money, my homeboys, we`ll figure it out and split half the profits with you, Qatari investor?

GRIM: Well, that`s what he said. And that may be where the game of telephone wound up with the Daily Mail saying the family members were getting enriched or something, but right. And then for the privilege of that, you know, continuing to talk about ideas like that, you know, I would need -- I would need a million dollars.

HAYES: And so -- right, so then he says we need $1 million which seems like it fits with the way that he was kind of going around telling people, look, you got to pay me up front if you want to learn about talk-to, know the mind of Donald Trump. And what does Rumaihi say?

GRIM: Right, and this -- he told me this two months ago or so off the record and wasn`t talking publicly yet. And so, when Cohen`s ledger came out and you start seeing million these dollar payments and you see that he`s you know, he`s offering services for insight and consulting, it very much mirrored what Rumaihi said he was experiencing with him.

HAYES: Cohen doesn`t have a comment on this. Does he -- does he denied this.

GRIM: He did. He said it was untrue and these are salacious stories that are you know -- and that -- and that they`ll be proven wrong in court, something along those lines.

HAYES: We will --- we will see what happens. Ryan Grim, thanks for being with me.

GRIM: You got it.

HAYES: Coming up, hundreds of pages of testimony today paint a picture of a presidential campaign very interested in colluding with Russia. What we learned today about the infamous Trump Tower meeting after this.

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HAYES: Hundreds of pages of interview transcripts released today by the Senate judiciary committee reveal more evidence that senior members of the Trump campaign really wanted to collude with Russia.

According to the participants in that infamous Trump Tower meeting in June, 2016 who testified before the committee, Donald Trump Jr. and colleagues didn`t end up receiving much in the way of, quote, official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary as they had been promised, whether they ever did get direct help from Russia remains obviously an open question. It`s the subject of the special counsel`s investigation.

But what`s clear from the transcripts that were released today is that senior Trump officials in that meeting were extremely eager to obtain dirt on their opponent from someone billed to them as a representative of the Russian government, so much so they apparently got angry when she didn`t deliver to their satisfaction.

The transcripts also show that lawyers for the Trump organization, the president`s private business, scrambled to get participants stories straight before news of the meeting first broke last summer, and that the president himself was involved in efforts to the cover up the meeting`s original purpose.

Don Jr. confirming reports his father helped with the initial misleading statement describing the meeting as being about adoption.

For more on the takeaways from the Trump Tower transcripts, I`m joined by Rosalind Helderman, political investigations reporter for The Washington Post and MSNBC contributor Clint Watts, former FBI special agents, author of the forthcoming book "Messing With the Enemy" out later this month.

Let me start with you as someone who worked at the FBI and has worked in counterintelligence, about this moment here about this meeting. What seems hard confirmed here is, this was floated and they took the bait. We don`t know what happened in the meeting. But what`s your take away from what that meant?

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Collusion, whether failed, attempted or successful is all collusion. I mean, that`s really the take away from it. They took the meeting under the auspices that they were going to get some kind dirt. They seemed to be even frustrated when they did not get what they wanted and then didn`t realize they were essentially being offered, hey, this is a quid pro quo, you might look into the Magnitsky Act, and if you do something about it, then maybe we`ll follow up.

HAYES: Oh, so you think this was a lost in translation that the structure of the meeting was them being like we`re telling you what the quo is, maybe we`ll get to the quid later. And they were just like hey what`s the deal, there`s no dirt.

WATTS: Yeah, gimme, gimme, gimme. Hurry up. Can you do it quickly?

HAYES: That`s your interpretation of what happened at that meeting?

WATTS: Well, it`s one interpretation. The other one is that what the Russians always successfully do is, we`ve talked a lot about the online game, which is how do you get, you know, the attention of your target. But their ground game is exceptional. They created this Russian government attorney it`s coming to see you. We`re coming to your building of your business, got your name on the top, and we`re going to have a meeting with you and we will give you dirt. And we want to talk to you about the Magnitsky Act.

What`s fascinating about this now is not only were they trying to taint the Clintons but in doing so they have now tainted the Trumps. They have created a situation where I believe the Russian story more than I believe the president of the United States version of events. They can now play this either way and influence it. If they want to support the Trumps they can. If they don`t, now they`ve created provocation which they can influence the other direction.

HAYES: Rosalind, one of the things that seems most significant from those transcripts was that Don Jr. says that the president did contribute to that initial report. Here`s a question: "to the best of your knowledge, did the president provide any edits to the statement, that`s the initial statement that said it was meeting about adoption or other input?"

He may have commented through Hope Hicks.

"And do you know if his comments provided through Hope Hicks were incorporated into the final statement?"

I believe some may have been.

What do you think of that?

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, JOURNALIST: Yeah, we understand that that episode is of keen interest to Bob Mueller and his team as they explore the possibility of obstruction of justice, because it starts to look like there was an effort to tell witnesses what their story should be and to potentially hide even from investigators what the true purpose of this meeting is.

Now, the other side that is, it was a media management strategy that had nothing to do with the investigation, but that`s what Mueller will be looking at.

HAYES: Well, -- and here`s another thing I found really interesting on the kind of media management/obstruction question, that this Trump Org lawyer pops up in here, Alan Garton (ph), who is kind of going to all the parties emailing Goldstone before the story breaks. And there`s something odd about the fact that this person is not someone from the White House. He`s not someone from the campaign. He works for the private business of the president of the United States and he`s the person who is going go out and like line up everyone`s stories. That -- we didn`t know that before.

HELDERMAN: Yeah, I was struck by that, as well. And one of the things that you can see happening is sort of a trading around of statements that might be distributed and Goldstone tells the committee at one point that a statement that was suggested for him he felt like wasn`t accurate and he didn`t want to sign on to that.

HAYES: There`s also the question of whether the president was told.

WATTS: Right.

HAYES: Don Jr. says he never told his father, but there`s this blocked number...

WATTS: Yes.

HAYES: -- right in between the calls to Emin Aglavrov (ph). We don`t know -- but that blocked number is something that we could learn, someone could learn, right. Am I wrong about that?

WATTS: That`s what`s tricky about this whole time -- Phillip Bump`s timeline in The Washington Post is just fantastic. And when you lay that out, you see two things. One the blocked phone call is the only unexplained phone call of all of this.

HAYES: He`s calling Emin. He`s called someone else, calling Emin back.

WATTS: We don`t know what happened. But there are investigators that can figure that out.

And through telephonic records, those can be subpoenaed, those can be gathered. There are investigative ways that you can figure that out or hunt that down. It also becomes a question to the president, you know, it becomes a question to the president`s staff. You know, who made this phone call?

What`s also interesting is Trump Jr. seems to call Manafort, you know, in between these segments. And you`ve got to the wonder what those phone calls are about. Was it just coordinating for the meeting, or is it also, well, does this check out? Is this something we want to do?

HAYES: Also, you kind of know this world. What do you think about this?

WATTS: Right, and so why would you call these people? Well, you`re trying to organize the meeting, but you may be trying to figure out. And Trump Jr. seems the one person, whether it`s on Twitter or in phone calls, will go for just about any opportunity that comes up.

HAYES: Quickly, Rosalind, Goldstone and others seemed freaked out. I mean, they seem -- that`s one thing that comes across is, maybe they didn`t know what they were doing or what they were enmeshed in, but there`s palpable panic in some of those emails.

HALDERMAN: Yeah. I mean, we hear from Goldstone that he actually warned the Russians, warned the Agalarovs that he thought this was a bad idea. And then when it goes south a year later, he reminds them repeatedly that he had told them that this was a bad idea.

And so there seemed to be some understanding.

The Agalarov`s own employee said that when he got wind that there might be dirt about Hillary Clinton involved he thought about backing out even though he was sort of required to be there because he was actually a Clinton supporter.

HAYES: Everyone`s alarm bells go off except, it seems, for the people working for the president`s campaign.

Rosalind Helderman and Clint Watts, thank you both.

Don`t go anywhere, we`ve got more on this ahead. Congressman Adam Schiff will be here. Plus, Scott Pruitt faces Democrats in the Senate in Thing One, Thing Two next.

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HAYES: Thing One tonight, with questions over his use of multiple email accounts, EPA chief Scott Pruitt is now well past a dozen concurrent investigations into his him or his agency. Pruitt`s rationale for 24/7 security and first class travel is also coming under renewed scrutiny and while he still somehow has a job, part of that job includes facing senators at open hearings on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VERMONT: Forget about your own ego and your first class travel and your special phone booths and all these things that just make you a laughingstock and your agency a laughingstock.

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HAYES: Scott Pruitt faces some pretty unhappy Democrats in the Senate. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

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HAYES: At Scott Pruitt`s Senate hearing today, the impeach Pruitt contingent may have filed out quietly, but Democrat Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico made sure that even if Pruitt wouldn`t provide sufficient answers, he was certainly going to have his say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM UDALL, (D) NEW MEXICO: Do you know how many investigations into your ethics and spending are ongoing as of today?

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: As far as the total number, I don`t know, but I know that those agencies and those individuals are offices are involved.

UDALL: By my count, there are 14, and it`s 16 if you include the two ongoing reviews by your bosses at the White House and the OMB.

Did you personally on your first day ask for 24/7 protection for yourself?

PRUITT: Personally, on the first day, the 24/7 had been determined by the criminal enforcement office.

UDALL: So your answer is no?

PRUITT: My answer is I did not direct that on the first day.

UDALL: OK, well, all the documents dispute that.

Do you see a conflict of interest in accepting a pretty good housing deal from a lobbyist couple that has business before the EPA?

And all of these questions I`ve been asking about is this swampy behavior.

LEAHY: Incidentally, what a silly reason you had to fly first class, because of a danger to you unless you flew first class. He said nobody even knows who you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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HAYES: As if it weren`t clear enough already, the Trump administration is going to great pains to make it more clear what they really think about immigrants and people that come to this country seeking refuge. With preparations for a horrifying new plan to rip undocumented children from their families and then warehouse them in military bases.

Now, coming from this president such a plan is not so much of a surprise, but here`s what`s crucial. He is hardly the only one in the White House who apparently supports ripping children from their mothers. Chief of Staff John Kelly told NPR just last week that separating families would be, quote, "a tough deterrent," adding "the children will be taken care of, put into foster care or whatever."

Put the into foster care or whatever. That`s how John Kelly thinks of tearing children away from families. And now, thanks to The Washington Post, we have some idea of what whatever means, potentially warehousing children on military bases, children, the most vulnerable, coming here, fleeing danger in their home country, seeking refuge in this beacon of liberty, the United States, and there is a reason why people in this administration can think this way of putting children on military bases, it is because crucially they do not see undocumented immigrants as people.

From the announcements of Donald Trump`s presidential campaign almost three years ago, he has consistently, repeatedly talked about immigrants as criminals, as threats, as thugs. Today, in referring to the people the administration has deported in response to a question about MS-13, he said these are not people they are animals. The president of the United States sayng these are not people, they are animals.

It is a disgusting way to talk about human beings, and this plan to destroy families, to warehouse children, is a shocking thing for a country to do. It is deeply indecent, and anyone who works for this administration and does not quit over it should be ashamed.

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HAYES: Today`s other big news comes from the Senate Intelligence Committee whose leaders are siding with both the intelligence community and directly contradicting the Republican counterparts in the House with a bipartisan statement saying they believe Russians were trying to help Donald Trump get elected president.

Joining me now is the ranking member of House intelligence committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, who agrees with that statement from Senate Intel.

And congressman let me start with your reaction to your counterparts in the Senate backing up the minority report from your committee. What do you think?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, there is really no question that the Senate intel committee, on a bipartisan basis, got the conclusion right. All the evidence we have seen corroborate what the intelligence community found in terms of the Russian motivation, which was to help the Trump campaign, to hurt Hillary Clinton, and more generally sow discord in our election. That was the bipartisan conclusion in the senate. That was the conclusion clearly of the Mueller team, as you can see reflected in their indictment of these 13 Russians, but also the overwhelming conclusion of the intelligence agencies.

So sadly, the majority on the House intel committee is now an outlier, and that`s not at all surprising because they have from the beginning viewed their mission differently, not at getting at the truth, but rather protecting the president, whatever the costs may be.

HAYES: New transcripts and documents out today from the Senate, from the judiciary committee, in terms of their portion of the investigation into that Trump Tower meeting. I`m wondering as someone who was part of your own investigation on the house intelligence side, do you feel like you learned things today from the documents made public?

SCHIFF: You know, we`re still going through the documents. On first read, a lot of the testimony in the senate very much tracks what we heard from these same witnesses in the House. We also see some of the same infirmities I think in the investigation in the Senate judiciary committee that we`ve had in the House, and that is that when witnesses would make a statement, the investigators weren`t allowed to progress and test the truth or falsity of that statement and probe and find additional evidence.

In our interviews, for example, of Donald Trump Jr., we asked him about this blocked call that he received in between communications he was having with Emin Agalarov. Now, he claimed not to remember who that call was either to or from, it was a blocked number. We know the president was using a blocked number when he was then candidate Donald Trump. It`s very easy to find out by subpoenaing Donald Trump`s phone records during the campaign to see if that was him, if that was a conversation that Don Jr. was having in the midst of trying to figure out whether to take this meeting at Trump Tower.

That`s a pretty key piece of evidence, a pretty obvious investigative step. The Republicans on our committee wouldn`t allow us to take it, because they didn`t want to know the answer. It doesn`t appear the Senate judiciary committee took that step either, but Bob Mueller, I have to imagine, has taken that step. He knows the answer, and I would hope that we will have an opportunity in our committee, if not now, then down the road, to do this investigation and the way that we need to.

HAYES: The president today in filing his financial disclosure with the Office of Government Ethics finally admitting he did in fact reimburse Michael Cohen for the payment to Stormy Daniels with the intent of keeping her quiet about her allegations. What`s your reaction to that?

SCHIFF: My reaction is that if this is a campaign expenditure, if it`s a loan for Michael Cohen to the tune of $130,000, then it violates the limit because that loan is considered basically a contribution and would be limited to a few thousand dollars, not $130,000.

So the failure to report this last year in the financial disclosures, the violation of the limit on campaign contributions, I think this is a pretty serious business, because it now looks like there may very well be violations of both campaign laws as well as financial disclosure obligations.

So that`s a first take. I would certainly want to delve into legal issues more, but I think the president was in a no-win situation given the sort of false web he had woven over this in that if he reported it, it led to one conclusion about prior falsehoods. If he didn`t report it, it led to a different conclusion about prior falsehoods.

But to me, the implication is it was a loan and it exceeded the campaign limits. And second, it should have been reported a year ago, and that`s a problem.

HAYES: You`re on a committee that has a lot of business to attend to day in and day out, week in and week out. The majority issued their somewhat perfunctory report. There is a minority report from the folks in your party. What is it now like on that committee as the chair of that committee, Devin Nunes, is out spinning further conspiracy theories about infiltration of the Trump campaign. Like, what is your relationship with him like? What is it like on that committee right now?

SCHIFF: Well, what it`s like is really what had been going on in private is now going on in a very public way, and that is there are now two very different investigations going on. The Republicans walked away from the Russia investigation, the one they were charged with doing. We still are continuing that investigation on the minority side. We`re continuing to bring in witnesses and receive documents from those that are willing to cooperate with us.

The majority for its sake is trying to investigate the investigators, it`s trying to tear down the FBI and the Justice Department. It`s a basic scorched earth policy that says we will do anything to protect the president, including tearing down these important institutions. So obviously, that makes for a pretty tense environment in our committee.

At the same time, we recognize I think on a bipartisan basis that notwithstanding these very serious differences about the investigation, the other work of the committee overseeing these agencies, making sure that they`re talking to each other and protect the country, all of that must go on in a nonpartisan manner. And I think on the positive side, we continue to do that work, which is the bread and butter of our committee in a very nonpartisan way.

HAYES: How would you characterize your relationship with Devin Nunes?

SCHIFF: Look, certainly very strained, and it`s a tragedy because prior to this investigation I think we got together and worked together very well. We had a good relationship. We passed any number of very difficult intelligence-related legislation, reform legislation on a bipartisan basis. So, it`s been tough. But, you know, the reality is from the very beginning of the investigation with that midnight run the chairman made it clear that his priority was very different than following the facts and that was going to amount to a rupture no matter how hard we tried on the Democratic side to make this investigation work.

HAYES: Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: 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

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